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Man tells police God ordered him to stab truck driver at rest stop

An officer drives a Moorhead police car to the Moorhead Information Center and Rest Area off of Interstate 94 after a stabbing occurred there Sunday afternoon. Staff photo by Jay Pickthorn

MOORHEAD, Minn. - When Harmit Bhangu arrived at a Moorhead rest stop on Sunday, he heard God order him to kill another truck driver who looked abnormal to him.

Without saying a word, Bhangu approached Dale Morigeau and began repeatedly stabbing him, swinging the knife in a circular motion.

Morigeau yelled to a woman for help, saying, "He's going to kill me" as Bhangu stabbed him eight to 10 times.

Responding police found Bhangu holding onto the chest and neck area of Morigeau, who was covered in blood and suffering from multiple stab wounds, including one near his heart. Morigeau, 51, has undergone surgery and is listed in critical condition, but is expected to live.

Prosecutors on Tuesday charged Bhangu, 32, with second-degree attempted murder, second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and fourth-degree assault on a police officer. Court documents filed Tuesday in Clay County District Court spelled out details about the Sunday afternoon incident and leading to the felony charges.

After he was taken into custody Sunday, Bhangu said he also had assaulted a man in Beach, N.D. - roughly 350 miles away from Moorhead's Interstate 94 rest stop - the day before.

When Moorhead police asked Bhangu if he had killed the person in Beach, Bhangu asked where the person was, saying he wanted to kill him right now. He then reiterated wanting to kill Morigeau, of Ronan, Mont., saying he knew it was wrong to kill people but God had ordered him to do it.

Bhangu was in Beach on Saturday, but authorities do not believe he harmed anyone, said Golden Valley Sheriff's Corporal David Helsper. Bhangu called authorities at 12:45 a.m. Saturday and reported that two men were making racial slurs at him at the Flying J Travel Plaza in Beach, but the men were no longer there when officers arrived, Helsper said.

Investigators are checking surveillance footage, but have not found indications of an assault.

"Nobody appears to have been injured," Helsper said, adding Bhangu was cooperative with the responding officer, but challenged his authority.

Local authorities have had continuous problems with Bhangu since his arrest.

Bhangu, of Chestermere, Alberta, Canada, has caused several problems since his arrest and been violent toward jail staff, Clay County Attorney Brian Melton said, adding Bhangu was placed on medications to keep him from being violent in the jail. Bhangu was hospitalized Monday after repeatedly banging his head against his cell wall, Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist said.

Bhangu also is accused of attacking a Moorhead police detective who was interviewing him. While discussing his religion, Sikhism, with police, Bhangu asked if the detective wanted to be a part of that religion. When the detective said he did not know, Bhangu then reached up with his right hand, which was in a cast, and struck the detective in his face.

The detective became momentarily disoriented from the incident, and was knocked out of his chair, Melton said.

Bhangu then stood up from his seat in an aggressive manner, staring at the detective as he called out for help from other officers. Officers ended up using a Taser on Bhangu.

He is being held on $1 million bail set during his initial appearance Tuesday.

Defense attorney Kenneth Kludt told Judge Steven Cahill that Bhangu does not have any prior convictions, saying he is originally from India, where his wife currently lives. Kludt asked for a minimal bail, saying Bhangu does not have many resources.

Melton argued for $1 million, calling Bhangu a serious public safety risk and a flight risk and describing some of the allegations against Bhangu. As the prosecutor spoke, Bhangu closed his eyes and often looked toward the ground.

Bhangu was surrounded by four sheriff's deputies during the roughly 10-minute court appearance and appeared a bit disorientated. When Cahill asked Kludt if Bhangu would need an interpreter, Kludt responded that he was having a hard time determining how much Bhangu does understand because he was so medicated at the time.

Cahill on Tuesday ordered a psychological evaluation for Bhangu and said his English language skills also should be determined.