Charges filed against Duluth doctor involved in police standoff

An intoxicated Dr. Javier E. De La Garza put the barrel of a handgun under his own chin, telling a witness that his wife “doesn’t want me there anymore,’’ before firing one shot from his Hummer toward the ground in his Congdon Park driveway in an incident that culminated with his arrest by Duluth police on Nov. 30.
That information was contained in a complaint filed in St. Louis County District Court today charging De La Garza, 51, with reckless discharge of a firearm within a municipality, fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle and two counts of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
According to the criminal complaint, a neighbor of De La Garza contacted police about 9:30 p.m. and said he and his wife were driving home when a member of De La Garza’s family called him saying he was concerned about De La Garza and his wife, Carla.
The neighbor saw De La Garza begin to back his vehicle out of the garage and pulled his own vehicle over before approaching the defendant.
The neighbor said that after De La Garza said his wife no longer wanted him there, he pulled a handgun out from beneath the driver’s seat. The neighbor asked him to put the gun away. De La Garza then put the gun under his own chin, according to the witness, who continued to request that De La Garza put the gun away.
At one point, De La Garza reportedly took the clip out of the gun, but later put the clip back into the gun. According to the complaint, he pointed the gun out the driver’s side window and fired one shot toward the ground. The neighbor and his wife then ran behind a neighboring residence, where they called 911.
Police spotted De La Garza’s green Hummer with vanity license plates reading “GUTS’’ on Interstate 35 near 40th Avenue West. Officers followed the vehicle into the parking lot at Spirit Mountain, where it stopped. Police used an amplifying device to order the doctor to leave his vehicle. He was not immediately visible, but eventually he sat up. He put his hands on the steering wheel and ignored officers’ warnings not to move the vehicle.
De La Garza drove around the parked squad cars as a flash-bang grenade was tossed and exploded near the front passenger side of the Hummer. The defendant continued to drive out of the parking lot, passing four additional marked squad cars. Spike strips had been set up on Skyline Parkway, which forced the defendant to travel westbound on the parkway. He stopped about a block later behind additional spike strips that had been placed there by a St. Louis County sheriff’s deputy.
De La Garza then left the vehicle under orders from officers and was taken into custody. An intoxilyzer test for alcohol was completed at 1:56 a.m. Dec. 1. Test results showed an alcohol concentration of .10. The legal limit to drive is .08. The defendant posted $7,000 bail on Sunday. His first court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 21.
In a separate matter, De La Garza faces three felony charges of sexual assault in Wisconsin.
A 42-year-old woman claims De La Garza touched her in a sexually inappropriate way during examinations and had intercourse with her without her consent on a boat at Barker's Island Marina in 2006. The doctor has entered a not guilty plea.
De La Garza is a gastroenterologist who has practiced at St. Luke's since 2004. A gastroenterologist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, pancreas, liver and gallbladder. He reached an agreement with the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice on Sept. 26 to stop practicing medicine while the board investigates complaints against him.
Carla De La Garza told officers who responded to the family home after the incident that she discharged a shotgun inside the house, which blew a hole in a wall. There was no reference to that action in the criminal complaint filed against the doctor. Carla De La Garza was transported to a Duluth hospital for medical evaluation after the incident. Police said no one was physically injured during the episode.