BRAINERD, Minn. — A 37-year-old Brainerd, Minn., man faces a felony criminal charge after allegedly making a threatening comment about Riverside Elementary School.

Joshua David Beber made his first appearance Friday morning, Feb. 12, in Crow Wing County District Court and was charged with making felony threats of violence.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Beber, Brainerd police were notified at 9:38 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, concerning comments made by Beber to another person at Jack’s House in east Brainerd.

The witness told police he did not know who Beber was and had never met him before, but Beber approached and began speaking to him. The witness said Beber was acting very strangely and he suspected Beber to be under the influence. The witness later learned Beber was a former employee at Jack's House who had recently been terminated.

Joshua Beber
Joshua Beber

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Beber was getting very personal in his conversation, the witness said, telling him he was losing custody of his children soon. Beber then began making concerning statements, the witness said, specifically that Beber's friend "went to jail for saying he was going to shoot up a school, so now I'm going to follow through with it."

The witness stated he tried to talk to Beber about how irrational and terrible Beber's comment was, but Beber did not seem to care. The witness said Beber then went a step further and specifically mentioned Riverside Elementary, the complaint stated.

The witness said he continued to talk to Beber about how wrong Beber's statement was and Beber did not appear to be receptive. Eventually, Beber was escorted out of Jack's House by employees and the witness called law enforcement to report what Beber said in case Beber actually were to act on his statement.

The witness went on to describe Beber’s behavior as angry. Beber stated he was going to jail soon and he did not care anymore. Beber also expressed frustration with the mother of his children not allowing him to see his children.

Regarding concerns from parents regarding how families were notified of the incident and if there would be future notification if Beber were to be released, Brainerd Public Schools Superintendent Laine Larson spoke Friday regarding the safety of the district’s school buildings and the partnerships with law enforcement.

“Once again I would really like to reiterate the thanks to the public in the voter-approved referendum,” Larson said, noting safety was the No. 1 goal of the 2018 referendum, which authorized $250 million to remodel the district’s facilities.

“Every one of our schools has automatic shutdown doors that will instantly shut if we find out that there’s safety issues or something like that, where we can instantly lock our buildings down. There’s all kinds of safety measures with cameras and everything,” she added. "Because of that commitment, our schools are safer than ever, and then with this partnership that we have with Baxter, with Brainerd, with Nisswa with law enforcement, we just really feel like this is a genuine partnership to keep our students, our staff and schools safe.”

Acting Police Chief Mike Bestul also addressed those parent concerns Friday, noting those concerns were not brought directly to him Thursday, as a source in a previous Forum News Service story indicated.

“Typically in situations like this we don’t necessarily do a community notification when somebody has been seen by a judge, and that’s usually not the protocol,” Bestul said. “However, victim notification on a serious type of incident such as assault, criminal sexual conduct investigations, domestics, those kind of things, there is a process in place.”

Bestul said he has been in contact with Larson and the school district and stated the police department’s No. 1 priority is the safety of school buildings, students and staff.