By Daniel E. McGonigle
The Caledonia Argus
In the early morning hours of Monday, July 31, officers from across the region responded to shots fired on a police officer.
The officer, who attempted to pull a vehicle over for speeding in the La Crescent area, laid back as the armed suspects fired a shotgun out the window at the officer who was giving chase in his squad car.
Speeds reached up to 100 mph as the chase made its way on Hwy. 44 from La Crescent towards Caledonia.
The officer in the lead squad car reported the driver slowing down attempting to close the gap between he and the officer so the suspects could attempt to hit the officer with the rounds they fired.
Joining in the chase were officers from the Houston County Sheriff’s Office, MN State Highway patrol, Caledonia PD, Hokah PD and La Crescent PD.
Following running over rumble strips, which punctured all four tires on the vehicle, the suspects fled into a corn field.
Residents in the area received a phone call from dispatch at about 1:30 in the morning instructing them to lock their doors as responding officers scoured the corn fields in which the suspects had fled.
After a search of the corn fields, the suspects surrendered to officers where, upon making contact with the suspects, it was discovered that one of them had suffered two gun shot wounds to the neck.
After being fired upon, the officers, returned fire in the direction of the suspects car.
Thankfully, it was only the suspect who sustained injuries.
“It could’ve turned out much worse,” said Sheriff Mark Inglett who assisted in the arrest of the suspects.
Suspects are from Holmen
While BCA officials are not releasing the names and identities of the suspects at this time, it is being reported that they are from the Holmen area.
No further information was available about the suspect’s identities when we went to press.
Traffic rerouted through Hokah
The officer-involved shooting left in its wake a trail of evidence which BCA and local law enforcement officials had to secure.
“There is more than one scene,” said Inglett. “So highway 44 is closed at Hokah and County Road 20.”
Inglett noted that the closure was expected to last throughout the day on Monday.
An officer went with the suspect to Gundersen where he was transported to receive treatment on his gunshot wounds.
The Caledonia ambulance assisted with treating the individual and transporting him to La Crosse.
BCA investigating officer involved shooting in Houston County
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is investigating an officer-involved shooting incident that occurred early this morning in Houston County.
Two La Crescent Police Department officers encountered two male subjects behaving suspiciously at the Kwik Trip at 319 S. 3rd Street in La Crescent around 1:30 a.m. Monday.
After the two males left the gas station, the officers pulled over their vehicle at Highway 44 and Highway 16 in Hokah. During the traffic stop, the officers encountered gunfire and they returned fire.
The subjects’ vehicle fled the scene and a pursuit ensued. It ended when the subjects’ vehicle crashed into a bean field near Highway 44 & Carpenter Road in Caledonia. Both subjects initially exited the vehicle and ran into the field. They eventually surrendered.
One of the subjects injured during the incident was taken by ambulance to Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, Wis., where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries and released. He was then booked into the La Crosse County (Wisc.) Jail on probable cause attempted murder.
The uninjured male was booked into the Houston County Jail on probable cause attempted murder. Charges are expected within the next few days.
Neither officer was injured during the incident. Both are on standard administrative leave.
The La Crescent Police Department does not use body cameras. Squad cameras captured video of the shooting incident.
This investigation is in its very early stages. The BCA will provide additional information once initial interviews with incident participants and any witnesses are completed. When the investigation is complete, the BCA will turn its findings over to the Houston County Attorney’s Office for review.
The Houston County Sheriff’s Office, Caledonia Police Department and Minnesota State Patrol are providing assistance at the scenes.
The BCA conducts officer-involved shooting investigations the same way it does other conflict investigations. BCA agents interview witnesses and the people involved in the incident; collect, analyze and review evidence; and conduct follow-up interviews as needed to ultimately find all of the facts of a case.
The agency involved in the incident has no input regarding the investigative direction of the case. As an independent fact finder, the BCA does not decide or determine the outcome of a case. As it does in all investigations, the BCA will present its findings without recommendations to a county attorney for review.