MAHNOMEN, Minn. - A 28-year-old northwest Minnesota man who reported that he was attacked by three men in his garage and had his pickup stolen has now told authorities that he made up the story.
Brian Smith of Mahnomen on the White Earth Indian Reservation admitted his report on Sunday, July 8, was false, according to Mahnomen County Sheriff Doug Krier.
Smith, who is recovering in a Fargo hospital from burns, is cooperating with authorities.
The morning after Smith’s report, his burned pickup was found about 9:15 a.m. on a snowmobile trail along the Mahnomen and Clearwater county line.
However, on Tuesday, July 10, Smith asked to speak with authorities investigating the case and he told them he set fire to his Ford pickup, causing burns to his body, said the sheriff. He said he was trying to commit suicide.
Smith had been flown to a Fargo hospital from the Mahnomen Health Center after hospital officials there called authorities about 11:15 p.m. after which Smith told officers the false story.
A GoFundMe page set up by family members has been discontinued after nearly reaching its goal of $8,000. Krier said his department is working to determine how much money was pledged and how to go about returning any money that was donated. If funds can’t be returned, the sheriff said any remaining money would be donated to a burn center and earmarked for children with burns.
Once the investigation is completed and Smith’s mental health and other medical issues are addressed, the sheriff said the case would be turned over to the county attorney’s office when Smith could face charges
The sheriff also said in a release that if someone is contemplating suicide, there is help available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in 1-800-273-8255. "You can also go to any emergency roonm and explain that you need help and support," said Krier.