Home News Aitkin deputy slain in St. Cloud hospital; shooter also dead

Aitkin deputy slain in St. Cloud hospital; shooter also dead

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Oct. 19–A violent “whirlwind of events” in a St. Cloud Hospital room early Sunday morning left two men dead, including a 24-year veteran of the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office. The man who shot him was tased by another sheriff’s deputy and died at the scene, authorities said.

“A suspect being treated at St. Cloud Hospital shot and killed a sheriff’s deputy who had been monitoring the welfare of the suspect who was a subject of an investigation outside the St. Cloud tri-county area,” said Jill Oliveira, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).

The BCA said that the incident was confined to the suspect’s hospital room and that no one else was injured.

The deputy was identified as Steven M. Sandberg, 60, who had been with the Sheriff’s Office since 1991 and had worked as an investigator for the past 20 years.
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The suspect was Danny Leroy Hammond, 50, said BCA Superintendent Drew Evans during a news conference in St. Cloud.

Hammond, of rural Aitkin, was in the hospital for medical reasons following a domestic dispute, Evans said.

Hammond was not in police custody, Evans said, but he was being monitored by law enforcement officers “at the request of St. Cloud Hospital.” He was not handcuffed, Evans added.

Suspect couldn’t be saved

A struggle ensued after Hammond got out of his bed, Evans said, and he got hold of Sandberg’s gun and squeezed off several rounds.

A security guard from the hospital tased Hammond, and the suspect “became unresponsive,” Evans said.

Lifesaving efforts began in the emergency room, but Hammond died, the superintendent said.

Aitkin County Sheriff Scott Turner said the incident was a “whirlwind of events in [a] very tragic situation.”

Sandberg leaves behind a wife and daughter, Turner said.

A hearse carrying Sandberg’s body from St. Cloud to the Ramsey County medical examiner’s office in St. Paul on Sunday afternoon was escorted by dozens of police vehicles in a motorcade along Interstate 94.

Hammond’s criminal history includes felony convictions for burglary and fleeing custody, both cases from roughly 25 years ago.

‘Officer down’

Law enforcement scanner conversation of the unfolding predawn scene was captured by the MN Police Clips website.

“We do have an officer down in South 527,” came the word from the hospital to dispatch. “We have deputy that is shot … the shooter is in handcuffs.”

An officer on the scene said the “guy got gun away from deputy, shot deputy” and the suspect went into cardiac arrest. The weapon was recovered, the officer added.

In a statement issued Sunday afternoon, Gov. Mark Dayton said, “I deplore this terrible, senseless murder. … This tragedy reminds us that Minnesota’s law enforcement officers risk their lives every day and night to keep us safe.”

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(c)2015 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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