By Sylvia Wier and Brian Larsen
A Georgia man wanted in connection with an alleged case of child molestation took his life after a short standoff with city and county law enforcement Sunday in a parking lot on Dove Island.
The Koochiching County Sheriff’s Office was alerted about 2 p.m. by the U.S. Marshals office of an armed and dangerous man in the area. Officers found the suspect, James Appel, 34, of Fayetteville, Georgia, in a car in a parking lot about 100 yards from Sha Sha Resort.
Officers, assisted by the marshals and the International Falls Police Department, tried unsuccessfully to get Appel to leave the car. Appel killed himself with a single gunshot to the head a few minutes after the agencies arrived on the scene.
Koochiching County Sheriff Perryn Hedlund said his office is unaware of whether Appel had any ties to the area.
Dove Island, where Appel was parked, is about a two-mile boat ride to the Canadian border, which remains closed due to Covid restrictions.
“Nothing leads us to believe he was trying to get into Canada,” said Hedlund.
The case remains under investigation. Hedlund’s office said no other individuals are being sought in connection with it.
Calls placed to the Fayetteville Police Department on Monday for further information were not immediately returned.
On July 20, Fayetteville police reported in a Facebook posting that its criminal investigations division had executed arrest warrants for Appel in connection with aggravated child molestation and incest.
Police said in the posting Appel was made aware that the police had been contacted and he fled the area by car. Police said he had a handgun and AR-15 style rifle on him.
Fayetteville is about 20 miles south of Atlanta.
The Koochiching Sheriff’s Office was also assisted in the Sunday incident by the Minnesota State Patrol and the U.S. Border Patrol.