Detroit Lakes man who threw popcorn, accosted ref at high school basketball game avoids jail

Phillip Lokken was given a year of unsupervised probation after he ripped the whistle off the ref's shirt.

A screenshot of a Lake Park-Audubon High School basketball game where a fan threw a bag of popcorn at a referee.
Lake Park-Audubon High School

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — A Detroit Lakes man will avoid jail time after throwing popcorn at a high school basketball referee and confronting the official on the court.

Phillip Shawn Lokken, 46, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, April 26, in Becker County District Court to disorderly conduct. After signing a plea agreement, a fifth-degree charge of assault was dismissed.

The charges came in early March, about two months after Lokken was involved in a confrontation with two referees on Jan. 13 at Audubon Elementary School, according to a criminal complaint.

Lokken threw a bag of popcorn at a referee during a high school basketball game between Lake Park-Audubon and Win-E-Mac, the complaint said. The referee called a foul on a Win-E-Mac player toward the end of the game before Lokken threw the bag at the official.

When the referee ejected Lokken, the defendant yelled a profanity at the official, approached the him on the court, grabbed the ref’s shirt and ripped the official’s whistle off his lanyard, the complaint said.


Part of the confrontation, including a bag of popcorn flying over the ref's head, was caught on video. When police contacted Lokken about the incident, he said the referee was making “bull ... calls all night” and “he had enough of it,” the complaint said.

Judge Barbara Hanson sentenced Lokken to 90 days in jail, but he won’t have to serve any of that time behind bars if he completes a year of unsupervised probation. Lokken was ordered to pay $450 in fees and fines.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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