AITKIN, Minn. (WCCO) — A northern Minnesota community is mourning and in a state of shock Sunday night after a sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed inside a St. Cloud hospital early in the morning.
Nina Moini visited the Deputy Steven Sandberg’s hometown of Aitkin. This is a deep loss for the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office and the community. It was an emotional day as many people were just finding out they had lost a member of law enforcement and a man with deep roots in the community.
In a town of some 2,000, people from the convenience store to local restaurants knew the name Steven Sandberg.
“Two or three times a week he was buying gas. He was always pleasant. Always had a nice word to say,” Roger Fallgren said.
“Just a very nice man. A very good family man,” Al Carti said.
Grief set in around town while friends of the Sandberg’s did what they could, bringing food by the house and rallying around Sandberg’s wife, who said she felt like she was in a nightmare.
And his daughter, who family friends say rushed back home from college.
“I feel sorry for them. I mean, my condolences go out to them, I really do,” Carti said.
A 60-year-old family man, a veteran of the law enforcement community who grew up here. Sandberg was a person known for always doing the right thing.
“He’s a very good man, a very good man,” Carti said.
We still have a lot to learn from law enforcement about why the man they say shot Sandberg, 50-year-old Danny Hammond, was in the hospital. It’s also under investigation why authorities felt Hammond needed to be guarded while he was in the hospital.
Officers at the scene Sunday had to subdue him with a Taser. He later died at the hospital.
Hammond was also well known around the Aitkin area. He does appear to have a criminal history that spans back a couple decades. Among the charges is one that includes a felony conviction for trying to escape police custody in 1990.
Deputy Sandberg leaves behind a wife and daughter.
Stay with WCCO-TV and WCCO.com for continuing coverage as we learn more about the events leading up to the deputy’s death.