The following was issued by the Associated Press:
Report: Ex-wrestler accused of other assaults
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) ? A former pro wrestler suffering from Alzheimer’s disease who apparently attacked an elderly fellow resident at the nursing home where they lived assaulted residents at least twice in the months leading up to the clash, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
Verne Gagne, 83, carried out an “unprovoked attack” on 97-year-old Helmut Gutmann, according to a search warrant unsealed Tuesday. It said Gutmann was “grabbed, shaken and thrown to the ground” by Gagne on Jan. 26 at Friendship Village in Bloomington, where both men lived in the memory loss unit.
Gutmann died Feb. 14 of complications from a broken hip. The Hennepin County medical examiner ruled it a homicide.
Both men had dementia and neither could remember the incident afterward.
Legal experts have said Gagne is unlikely to be charged because of a state law against prosecuting people who can’t help in their defense because of a mental defect. Bloomington police have forwarded the case to the county attorney’s office for a decision.
According to the warrant, police records showed “at least” two other incidents within the previous five months “in which Vern(e) Gagne assaulted a resident of Friendship Village,” the newspaper reported.
The document said the previous assaults were handled by staff at Friendship Village without police involvement. The affidavit by Detective Ed Hanson, who declined to comment when reached by The Associated Press, described the incidents as “what seems to be a pattern of conduct,” the Star Tribune said.
Gutmann’s widow, Betty Gutmann, has said she was told by residents and staff members at the nursing home that Gagne picked her husband up and threw him to the ground. She said that they had had one scuffle before, when her husband had been shouting at other residents and Gagne put a chokehold on him. Gutmann wasn’t hurt in that incident.
But Betty Gutmann is not blaming Gagne, saying he didn’t know what he was doing.
She said most Alzheimer’s victims are old and frail, and when they lash out, they don’t usually cause much harm. The difference with Gagne is that “he was a professional athlete and was trained to do certain moves. This is what makes him much more dangerous than the ordinary person” with dementia.
Verne Gagne’ son, Greg Gagne, a former wrestler himself, declined comment.
Friendship Village is owned by Des Moines, Iowa-based Life Care Retirement Communities, Inc. Kay Miller, a spokeswoman for the parent company, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday, but said last week they could not discuss the case for privacy reasons.