NEW ULM - The Commander of the New Ulm Police Department said Friday that he and New Ulm Police Chief Myron Wieland will work with Bavarian Blast to address recent police reports and an investigation about two underage German visitors cited for underage alcohol consumption at the festival on July 20, 2013.
"Wristband distributors are told to check IDs. Obviously there was a mistake made here by someone because it shouldn't have happened, if they (Bavarian Blast security staff) were physically requiring proper identification from everyone," Commander Dave Borchert said.
Borchert said he and Wieland will work with the Bavarian Blast board to address the issue and take reasonable measures to prevent similar events from occurring again at Bavarian Blast or other New Ulm festivals.
Two New Ulm police officers and a Brown County sheriff's deputy were dispatched to the Brown County Fairgrounds at 11:18 p.m. July 20, 2013, for a report of two juveniles consuming alcohol, according to a police incident report.
An event security officer, retired Minnesota state trooper Kevin Guggisberg, received underage drinking complaints about the two males, who were earlier seen with Brown County Probation Director and New Ulm City Councilor Les Schultz. Guggisberg said he found Schultz and asked him about the ages of the two males, and Schultz "vouched" for them, indicating they were of legal drinking age.
Guggisberg directed officers to the two juveniles he believed to be consuming alcohol. He said the two young mens' over-21 wristbands were removed from them by security staff.
A supplemental report by Guggisberg stated that Schultz and the two young men were wearing wristbands, but that Guggisberg was told by a person at the festival that the two young men with Schultz were not 21. The person knew the Germans' ages because of having employed them during their stay in New Ulm.
Guggisberg reported that he found Schultz and told him of the information he received, and that Schultz assured him the Germans were over 21 (saying that one was 21 and the other just turned 22). The report added that Schultz had earlier told a bartender at the B & L Bar downtown that the two boys from Germany staying with him were not to be served as they were not old enough.
Guggisberg said he saw the two young men near a food stand, they saw him coming and fled into the crowd.
A security officer and Guggisberg located the two young men and could tell they had been consuming alcoholic beverages. The younger of the two boys began complaining about his breath. Guggisberg told him he could be checked at the hospital, but the boy did not reply. The two young men admitted to being ages 19 and 20, according to the report.
Officers identified the Germans as Shearif Bydekarken and Felix Mehrens. Both had glossy eyes and slurred speech and smelled of an alcoholic beverage, according to officers. Bydekarken's PBT sample registered .169 and Mehrens .116, according to the incident report. The pair were issued underage-consumption of-alcohol citations and released to Schultz, according to the report.
Bydekarken stated in an interview with New Ulm Police on Aug, 2, 2013, that he and Mehrens paid their $180 underage consumption tickets, and that the whole incident was his and Mehrens' fault, not Schultz'. Bydekarken added that he and Mehrens were not used to our alcohol consumption age limits, and that in Germany, the legal drinking age is 16.
To avoid potential conflicts of interest due to Schultz's position as Brown County probation director and New Ulm city councilor, New Ulm Police forwarded the incident investigation to a Marshall Police detective. The Marshall investigation did not lead to any charges against Schultz.
The City of New Ulm was billed $1,889.70 by Marshall Police for their work. Borchert said the City of New Ulm Police Department budget includes funds for investigation consultation fees.
Bavarian Blast Board President Paul Sabatino said Friday that the names of people who buy legal drinking age wristbands are not tracked.
Borchert said Friday that the two Germans were the only two people issued citations at Bavarian Blast this year.
"I don't think underage drinking is a serious problem at Bavarian Blast," Borchert said. "Bavarian Blast has always been very cooperative with law enforcement and appears to be very responsible. They have taken measures to hire very good security and appear to make every effort to run a responsible operation."
Borchert said all New Ulm festivals work very well with police and area law enforcement.
"We meet weeks in advance of festivals with Bavarian Blast Board President Paul Sabatino and Jody Marti of August Schell Brewery," Borchert said. "We'll work to cinch up any holes there may be."
Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.