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No. 1 Story of the Year: Armed Robbery Leads to Manhunt, Capture

Eric Wade Forcier, 26, faces four felony charges related to the armed robbery and manhunt.

As the end of the year approaches, Patch recaps the biggest stories of 2012—both in terms of pageviews and impact on the Northfield community. This story was posted Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Since then, the suspects have also been indicted in federal court.

  • See 100 photos and a video from the manhunt


Updated: 1 p.m. Wednesday

Eric Wade Forcier, 26, of Farmington (police originally listed his address as Northfield), was charged in Rice County District Court on Wednesday with four felonies, including first-degree aggravated robbery, use of a deadly force against a peace officer, intentional discharge of a firearm that endangers safety and reckless discharge of firearm within a municipality, all connected to Monday's armed robbery of America's Best Value Inn & Suites and the subsequent manhunt.

The maximum penalty for all charges is 44 years in prison and/or a $75,000 fine.

Forcier is being held at the Rice County Jail on $1 million bail or $500,000 bail with conditions. He next appears in court Nov. 7.

Julie Ann Campana, 23, of Apple Valley, was charged with first-degree aiding and abetting aggravated robbery, a felony. Campana's bail was set at $100,000 or $50,000 with conditions. She next appears in court Nov. 7. 

For the more on the robbery and manhunt, read below.

The complaints for both are attached as PDFs.

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UPDATED: 10:30 a.m. Wedesday

Eric Wade Forcier, 26, of Farmington (police originally listed his address as Northfield), will be charged in Rice County District Court on Wednesday with four felonies, including first-degree aggravated robbery, use of a deadly force against a peace officer, intentional discharge of a firearm that endangers safety and reckless discharge of firearm within a municipality, all connected to Monday's armed robbery of America's Best Value Inn & Suites and the subsequent manhunt.

Julie Ann Campana, 23, of Apple Valley, will also be charged today with first-degree aiding and abetting aggravated robbery, a felony.

The complaints for both are attached as PDFs.

UPDATED: 8:30 a.m. Tuesday

The woman who police say helped Eric Wade Forcier rob America's Best Value Inn & Suites early Monday morning has been identified as Julie Ann Campana, 23, of Apple Valley, according to Deputy Chief of Police Chuck Walerius.

Both Campana and Forcier are being held at the Rice County Jail.

Walerius said the handgun used in the robbery was also found not far from where the original traffic stop occured on Armstrong Road.

For the rest of the story, read the update below.

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UPDATED: 11:10 a.m. Monday

Law enforcement officials have captured Eric Wade Forcier, who is a suspect in an armed robbery Monday morning, according to Deputy Chief of Police Chuck Walerius.

Forcier was found hiding in a vehicle near Perkins Specialized Transportation at 10:45 a.m. and was arrested without incident. He's been transported to the Northfield Safety Center for questioning.

“We’re continuing to search for the weapon,” Walerius said.

The incident started around 2:45 a.m. when an armed robbery was reported at America's Best Value Inn & Suites on Highway 3.

A vehicle was stopped a short time later on Armstrong Road, which runs west of Sechler Park and connects downtown Dundas to Highway 19, and Forcier shot a semi-automatic handgun at a Rice County deputy and fled, according to Walerius. A woman in the vehicle was apprehended who identified Forcier as the man.

Walerius said it's unknown at this time how many shots were fired but it was more than once; nobody was injured.

Forcier has an extensive criminal history dating back to 2004, according to Minnesota Court records. Convictions include possession of stolen property, theft and fleeing police officers in a motor vehicle. Forcier most recently was convicted of receiving stolen property and a DWI in 2009 and served time at the St. Cloud Correction Facility.

Dozens of law enforcement agencies responded to Northfield to help with the search, including SWAT teams, several police departments, K-9 units and the Minnesota State Patrol helicopter.


UPDATED: 10:45 a.m. Monday

Scanner traffic indicates that law enforcement has a person in custody near Perkins Specialized Transportation. We're waiting for confirmation on the suspect's identity. The gun has not been found, according to authorities.


UPDATED: 8:30 a.m. Monday (ORIGINAL POSTED AT 6:02 a.m. MONDAY)

Several law enforcement agencies are searching for a man who they say robbed the America's Best Value Inn & Suites around 2:45 a.m. Monday and then fired a gun at a Rice County deputy.

Deputy Chief of Police Chuck Walerius told Patch that a man, believed to be Eric Wade Forcier, 26, of Northfield, and a woman robbed the Highway 3 South hotel and were quickly stopped by a deputy from the Rice County Sheriff's Office along Armstrong Road, which runs west of Sechler Park and connects downtown Dundas to Highway 19.

The woman was apprehended but the man believed to be Forcier fled from the scene firing a semi-automatic handgun at the deputy. Walerius said it's unknown at this time how many shots were fired but it was more than once; nobody was injured.

Walerius said the woman told authorities that the man was Forcier. Forcier is described as 5 feet 11 inches, 200 pounds and was wearing a green or blue fleece, blue jeans, gloves, baseball hat and a black ski mask. 

Forcier has an extensive criminal history dating back to 2004, according to Minnesota Court records. Convictions include possession of stolen property, theft and fleeing police officers in a motor vehicle. Forcier most recently was convicted of receiving stolen property and a DWI in 2009 and served time at the St. Cloud Correction Facility.

Law enforcement have setup a perimeter and a command station at Kwik Trip on Highway 3 and Highway 19. Assisting with the search are the Sheriff's Office, Rice County SWAT, the Minnesota State Patrol and its helicopter, four Eagan K-9 units and several other area police departments.

There, Walerius said, officials are working on a gameplan. 

“We want to nab this guy," he said.

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Impact on schools

The school district sent this statement to families this morning: 

Dear Families, 

You may be aware of an alleged armed robbery that took place overnight in Northfield. Our understanding is an individual – a man allegedly carrying a handgun – fled on foot into the woods on Armstrong Road near Dundas.

When the District became aware of the incident we contacted Northfield Police about the situation and how it may impact our schools. Northfield police advised that we heighten awareness around our schools but that a lockdown is not necessary. 

Our schools had elementary children report directly into their buildings this morning rather than remaining on the playground. Secondary students were moved as quickly as possible to their first hour classes upon arrival. 

Our primary focus is on student safety. We will continue to follow Northfield police advisement and will provide updates to families as they become available.

Sincerely, 
L. Chris Richardson, Superintendent

Bill Murphy January 01, 2013 at 01:19 AM
What a day for Northfield.
C Benson January 01, 2013 at 01:32 AM
I thought the dogs who wandered from some place in Dundas to another place in Dundas would be the number one story of the year. (heh)

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