Aitkin Co. Deputy Fatally Shot By Hospital Patient, Suspect Died After Taser

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (WCCO) – A veteran Aitkin County deputy is dead after being shot by the man he was guarding inside a St. Cloud hospital room.

Deputy Steven Sandberg, 60, was overtaken by Aitkin County resident Danny Leroy Hammond, 50, who was receiving medical care following an earlier domestic dispute. Investigators say Hammond was not restrained to his bed and somehow managed to wrestle the deputy’s service weapon away from Sandberg and shoot him, killing him.

Hammond was immediately apprehended, but soon died after likely suffering from cardiac arrest.

Steven Sandberg, an Aitkin County deputy investigator, was coming to the end of his overnight guard shift in room 527 of CentraCare’s St. Cloud Hospital.

(credit: Sandberg Family)

(credit: Sandberg Family)

At around 5:15 a.m. Sunday, patient Hammond got out of his hospital bed and grabbed for Sandberg’s pistol.

“Several shots were fired during the struggle and security officers got into the room. The subject was tased with a Taser and taken into custody,” Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans said.

Deputy Sandberg died in the emergency room. Then just minutes after Hammond was restrained, he went into a medical arrest and emergency life-saving measures began immediately.

“Medical personnel began life-saving operations on him and he died at that time,” Evans said.

Outside the hospital, law enforcement from across the region came in to assist, and later to console. Around 1 p.m., 26 officers in squads, with their emergency lights flashing, led a silent and solemn procession of Deputy Sandberg’s body to the Ramsey County medical examiner. Autopsies will be performed on both Sandberg and Hammond.

Aitkin County Sheriff Scott Turner choked back emotion as he spoke of the tragedy hitting his small department of only 18 deputies.

“I would ask everyone would keep investigator Sandberg’s family, his wife and daughter in their thoughts and prayers in the coming days,” Turner said.

Hospital President Kurt Otto extended sympathies to the deputy’s family and insists that all protocols were being followed. He adds that quick response from security personnel prevented the incident from being yet more tragic.

“We’re very appreciative of the acts of our staff who contained this and prevented it from becoming a bigger tragedy,” Otto said.

Sandberg, a 24-year veteran of the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office, leaves behind a wife and a daughter.

Gov. Mark Dayton released a statement on the shooting, saying he extends his condolences to Sandberg’s family on behalf of all Minnesotans.

“This tragedy reminds us that Minnesota’s law enforcement officers risk their lives every day and night to keep us safe,” he said.

More from Bill Hudson
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