All four were struck when gunfire erupted around 8:48 p.m. that night on a curve of a tree-lined gravel road west of Nimrod in northern Wadena County. The deputy was seriously injured but released to recover at home on Sunday, while the Sebeka police officer was struck in his bullet-proof vest and did not require medical attention.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the case and as of Tuesday afternoon had not released the names of any of those involved. Reports naming the Savela brothers were made by at least one media outlet, KVLY-TV in Fargo, Monday night, who said they confirmed with family members that the Savela brothers were the ones killed. Calls to Savela family members by the Wadena Pioneer Journal on Tuesday went unanswered.
Wadena County Sheriff Mike Carr said his deputy was doing well on Monday night. Police scanner audio at one point indicated the officer was shot in his buttocks.
Wadena County has about 12 full-time and five part-time deputies, according to Carr. While he could not speak to the investigation yet, he said he recalled about three officer-involved shootings that have taken place during his 26 years in law enforcement, with 14 of those as sheriff. None involved an officer being shot.
The Star Tribune tracks the number of officer involved fatal shootings and reported there have been four officer-involved fatal shootings so far in 2021.
The names of the two people who died in the shooting will be released once autopsies have been completed and families have been notified, according to the BCA. The BCA added that officers would be identified once they have completed initial interviews.
The Wadena County Sheriff’s Office released information about the shooting early Sunday morning.
The incident started around 8:45 p.m. on Feb. 27 when a deputy tried to stop a car at the intersection of Minnesota 227 and 205th Avenue for a traffic offense which has not yet been disclosed. The car continued down 205th Avenue and then stopped. The sheriff says a struggle began between the deputy and the driver.
Moments later, another motorist and a Sebeka police officer arrived and the struggle continued. Police scanner audio indicates that at one point the suspect was not being cooperative and a Taser was used.
A short time later, at least one of the motorists began shooting at the officers. One of the officers returned fire. All four were struck by gunfire, according to the sheriff’s office news release. According to police scanner audio, both suspects were armed.
The injured Wadena County deputy was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph’s Health in Park Rapids and then transferred to North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale with serious but not life-threatening injuries. The Sebeka officer was struck in the vest and did not require medical treatment.
One of the two other people who were shot died at the scene. The other was taken by ambulance to Tri-County Health Care in Wadena, where they later died.
The BCA will determine whether the shooting was captured on dash cameras and body worn cameras.
Once the investigation is complete, the BCA will present its findings without recommendation to the Wadena County Attorney’s Office for review.