ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) has identified four law enforcement personnel who discharged their firearms during an officer involved shooting incident on Saturday, April 18, just north of Mankato. All are on standard administrative leave.
- Deputy Paul Biederman of the Nicollet County Sheriff’s Office has been in law enforcement for 15 years.
- Lieutenant Jeremy Brennan of the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office has been in law enforcement for 19 years.
- Officer Chris Hendrickson of the North Mankato Police Department has been in law enforcement for 20 years.
- Deputy James Othoudt of the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office has been in law enforcement for 13 years.
Earlier this week the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the man who died during the incident as Austin Dean Heights, 24, no permanent address. Heights died of multiple gunshot wounds.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is investigating the officer involved shooting at the request of the agencies involved.
Shortly after noon Saturday, law enforcement responded to a 911 call about an armed robbery at the BP gas station on U.S. Highway 169 just north of Highway 14 interchange in Blue Earth County. No one was injured during the robbery. After the robbery the suspect, now identified as Heights, fled east on foot across Highway 169 toward the Kiwanis Recreation Area. He boarded a rubber raft and began floating north toward St. Peter.
Investigators with the Mankato Department of Public Safety; the Blue Earth, Le Sueur and Nicollet County sheriff’s offices; North Mankato and St. Peter police departments; the Minnesota State Patrol, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota River Valley Tactical Response Team converged on the area. Law enforcement pursued Heights on foot along the wooded shoreline and in several law enforcement boats.
Officers exchanged gunfire with Heights at several points during the pursuit. Heights was struck by gunfire shortly before 2:30 p.m. as he attempted to exit the rubber raft on the east side of the river approximately three miles north of the Highway 14 bridge. He fell into the water. Officers located his body in the river a short time later and he was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Two firearms were recovered at the scene. No officers were wearing body cameras and there is no squad camera footage of the incident.
The BCA investigation of the incident is ongoing. Once the investigation is complete, the BCA will provide its findings without recommendation to the Le Sueur County Attorney’s Office for review.