A Minnesota deputy sheriff was shot and killed with his own gun by a suspect he was guarding at St. Cloud Hospital early Sunday morning.
Aitkin County Deputy Steven Sandberg, 60, was involved in a struggle with the suspect, who was being watched by police at the request of the hospital, police said at a press conference. The suspect, Danny Leroy Hammond, was able to take Sandberg’s gun and fatally shot him with it.
Hammond, 50, died after he was shot with a Taser while he was being detained by hospital security officers.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Shooter Was Suspected of Holding His Wife Hostage & Feeding Her Rat Poison
The suspect, Danny Leroy Hammond, was being treated at the hospital after he was found unresponsive at his home following a suicide attempt, KARE-TV reports. The hospital called the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Department to monitor the suspect. He had not yet been arrested and was not in handcuffs.
Hammond was facing charges including kidnapping, assault and terroristic threats. According to court documents obtained by KARE, Hammond’s wife was planning to divorce him after 25 years together, including 12 years of marriage. On October 10, she told Hammond she didn’t love him anymore, and he locked all the doors and windows in their house and took out his loaded gun, telling his wife they were together “until death do we part.”
His wife told police she thought Hammond, who had been abusive throughout their relationship, would kill them both. He forced her to eat food with rat poison in it, she told police. She eventually was able to convince him to let her leave on October 11. Officers responded to the home, but Hammond was gone. Police went back on Monday, October 12, and found Hammond with several abrasions. He was then taken to the hospital.
You can read part of the court documents and the police press release below:
He has a criminal record dating back to 1990, KARE-TV and KMSP-TV report:
He was at the hospital for more than a day. The hospital said it contacted police because of the seriousness of the incident that occurred before he was admitted.
2. Sandberg Was Alone in the Room With the Suspect
The details of what led up to the struggle are under investigation. Deputy Sandberg was in the hospital room with the suspect, Hammond, when the shooting occurred.
The shooting happened on the 5th floor of the hospital in its medical unit.
The shooting happened at about 5:15 a.m., according to the Pioneer Press.
3. Security Officers Hit the Suspect With a Taser & He Went Into Cardiac Arrest
Police said two hospital security officers entered the room after the shooting and were able to hit Hammond with a Taser and then detain him. An deputy sheriff who was coming to relieve Sandberg also helped take down Hammond.
While he was handcuffed, Hammond went into cardiac arrest. Hospital staff were not able to revive him.
Dispatch audio from the time of the shooting has been posted online by Minnesota Police Clips.
In the recordings, a security officer tells dispatchers that there is an officer down in room South 527. He describes the officer as “an inmate.”
4. Sandberg Is Survived by His Wife & Daughter
The Aitkin County Sheriff’s Department said Sandberg has been with the department since 1991. He has worked as an investigator for the past 20 years.
He is survived by his wife and daughter.
“Part of being a good police officer is loving people, and he did that, he embodied that,” Pastor Dawn Houser of United Methodist Church in Aitkin told KARE-TV. “He was a good dad, he was a good husband, he was a good neighbor, he was a good parishioner in the church, and this is going to be devastating to his family.”
A line of police vehicles from around St. Cloud escorted a hearse carrying Sandberg from the hospital to the medical examiner’s office.
Details about funeral and memorial services have not yet been finalized.
5. Sandberg Is the 27th Officer Killed in the Line of Duty in 2015
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, Sandberg is the 27th police officer killed by gunfire in the line of duty this year.
There were 46 police officers fatally shot by police in 2014, according to statistics released by the FBI on Monday. That was an increase from 2013, when 27 officers were killed, but was lower than 2009, when 56 officers were killed, and 2005, when 55 died by felonious acts.
“I deplore the terrible, senseless murder of Deputy Sheriff Steven Sandberg. On behalf of all Minnesotans, I extend my deepest condolences to his family. This tragedy reminds us that Minnesota’s law enforcement officers risk their lives every day and night to keep us safe,” Governor Mark Dayton said in a statement.