Children, animals removed from home
Loaded handgun within reach of daughter
Police took two children and a collection of live animals into protective custody after arresting a Burnsville man May 22 during a social worker’s visit to his home.
Police encountered weapons, including a loaded handgun within reach of a 9-year-old girl, while accompanying the Dakota County social worker to the home of Joseph Victor Pierce, 33, of 414 157th St. Court.
Pierce was charged with child endangerment involving a young child’s proximity to a loaded gun, negligent storage of firearms where a child could gain access, possession of a small amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The first two counts are gross misdemeanors; the second two are petty misdemeanors.
According to the criminal complaint:
Police accompanied the social worker because the worker said he had reason to believe Pierce “had made some mention of threatening” him on his previous visit. Pierce, who has a conceal-and-carry permit, was wearing a handgun on his holster during that visit.
On an earlier visit, police accompanied the social worker after someone had reported conditions inside Pierce’s home were unsafe for children and there was no running water.
On May 22, police found Pierce’s 9-year-old daughter in the backseat of a car in the driveway. She told police she was cleaning the car, which included emptying milk bottles and removing diapers, stuffed animals toys and other items, including a knife that was lying near the car, the criminal complaint said.
An officer saw a revolver with bullets in the cylinder in “plain view”on the dashboard of the unlocked car, whose driver’s window was partially down. Pierce said when questioned that he had left the loaded gun there.
Police then arrested him and found marijuana and a pipe with marijuana residue while patting him down.
Police learned that Pierce had called his daughter’s school saying she was sick that day.
Pierce’s other child, a 1-year-old boy, was buckled into his car seat by a bush near the driveway. At one point, Pierce picked up a black metal stake and threw it on the ground “about two feet” from the boy, the complaint said.
Pierce was agitated by the social worker’s visit, saying he hadn’t been informed of the day of the visit, which was to include a check of conditions inside his home.
He was wearing a belt with two knife sleeves and two knives, “one he had placed in there while law enforcement were on the scene.” He removed the knives when asked to.
Police also took into protective custody a hedgehog, a sugar glider (a small possum), quails, tame squirrels and six chickens.