Jenny Simon
Jenny Simon

Spring Valley library director Jenny Simon has checked out a lot of books in her time, but she had never checked out a fugitive — until Thursday, Oct. 26, when the quick thinking and calm actions of her and her staff helped capture a new library patron who had eluded law enforcement for more than a day.

Steven John Holm, 34, fled officers executing a search warrant on a residence in rural Spring Valley near Cherry Grove at 10:52 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24. The Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office issued an alert to area media for the public’s help in apprehending the man, who was wanted for numerous warrants in Fillmore, Mower and Blue Earth counties.

More than a day went by and the search continued for Holm, who Chief Deputy Kevin Beck said wasn’t considered armed or dangerous. The trail was cold until about 4 p.m. Thursday when Holm walked into the Spring Valley Public Library.

“When he came in here I told Jeanette (Ramaker), ‘That’s the guy,’” said Simon. “We always look at the pictures (of suspects) because we have a wide variety of patrons come in here.”

Still, she pulled up the photo issued by the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office on her computer to make sure they had the right man. Then she went into the back room and called 911 while Ramaker kept a calm presence at the front desk.

“He looked like a traveler — not one of our regular patrons,” said Simon. “However, he was very nice, easy-going and didn’t cause any problems.”

The Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office along with the Southeast Minnesota Violent Crime Enforcement Team, the Mower County Sheriff’s Office, the Austin Police Department with its K-9 and the Austin-Mower County Special Incident Response Team executed a search warrant on a residence Wednesday in the 18000 block of 160th Street in rural Spring Valley just east of Cherry Grove.  The search warrant was executed for the arrest and apprehension of Holm.

Officers didn’t find Holm when they entered the residence, but learned that Holm had taken off on a dirt bike, said Beck. Deputies expanded the search after learning Holm was seen later that day at the intersection of Fillmore County Road 14 and 141st Avenue about seven miles south of Spring Valley just east of Highway 63.  The officers set up a perimeter around the area and requested extra assistance from the Minnesota State Patrol helicopter and the Rochester Police Department K-9 unit.  Numerous buildings were checked, but Holm was not found. 

After Holm came strolling into the library Thursday afternoon, Simon was in constant contact with the Fillmore County dispatcher, who guided her through the ordeal. Ramaker kept a steady presence at the front desk so as not to arouse suspicion while officers got together and planned the arrest.

A larger group left the library just as Holm entered, so there were just three patrons left in the library at the time of the arrest, said Simon.

Holm came in to use a public computer at the library. At the time of his arrest, he was looking at a news report about him fleeing authorities the day before, said Beck.

Friday morning, Simon characterized the activity Thursday as just another day at the library where staff must deal with all sorts of things involving the public, although she admitted perhaps the gravity of the situation hadn’t sunk in yet. Even though she thought the incident went smoothly and quickly, she admitted it felt like a long wait for the incident to conclude.

Part of the reason it went nearly stress-free is because the suspect was so easy-going. Even more important was the professionalism of the deputies, she added.

“I’m really grateful for the deputies. They did such a good job,” said Simon. “They made us feel so comfortable and the whole thing went so smoothly.”

The deputies went behind Holm who was sitting in front of a computer and informed him he was under arrest. He cooperated without incident.

It was then the two library workers were able to breathe a sigh of relief over what they called a “nerve-wracking” incident.

“As he left, he said, ‘Have a nice day, ladies,’” said Simon. He wasn’t being sarcastic, she added. That was just the way he behaved throughout his brief stay at the library.

Following his arrest, Holm was transported to the Mower County Jail for holding.

Holm is wanted for the following felony warrants in Fillmore County: burglary, failure to appear and receiving stolen property. He is also wanted on felony warrants in Mower County for fifth degree drug possession and fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle.

Misdemeanor warrants include property damage and disorderly conduct in Mower County and failure to appear in Blue Earth County.

During the execution of the initial search warrant on 160th Street Wednesday, the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office located numerous stolen property items along with illegal drugs and seized them with a second search warrant. 

Fillmore County Sheriff Tom Kaase said he appreciated local citizens for “being on the alert, paying attention to our news releases and notifying law enforcement to make this arrest possible.”