AITKIN, Minn. (WCCO) — A fallen officer who died in the line of duty is at home Monday night.

Hundreds gathered at a community church to honor Aitkin County Investigator Steven Sandberg. Aitkin County prosecutors say the 60-year-old veteran investigator was guarding 50-year-old Danny Hammond inside the St. Cloud hospital, while Hammond recovered from a suicide attempt.

They say Hammond was somehow able to grab Sandberg’s service weapon and fatally shot the officer before eventually dying himself of a likely cardiac arrest.

People in the small northern Minnesota community say Steven Sandberg was not just an investigator for the sheriff’s department. Everyone we spoke with said this was a man who devoted his entire life to this community.

The Dale family brought flowers to the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office on Monday. Denae Dale can’t believe the always smiling, friendly investigator is gone.

“Just to show our support for him , just to let him know we are thinking about him. It’s kind of a small community,” she said.

Sheriff Scott Turner said Sandberg always handled the county’s toughest cases, but that his greatest source of pride was his wife Kristi and daughter Cassie.

“Probably more than anything he was a very kind, committed and involved parent,” Turner said.

John Woodrow knew Sandberg for 40 years.

“It’s just a shock and everyone in town feels the same way. You just don’t expect it to happen,” Woodrow said.

Woodrow, who announces Aitkin High School sporting events, says Sandberg never missed one of his daughter’s basketball games. Sandberg himself was a 1973 graduate of Aitkin High School and was a standout three-sport  athlete. Sandberg also served Aitkin as a volunteer firefighter for 17 years.

“Everyone in town knew him and he liked everyone. It is just a huge loss for the town,” Woodrow said.

Sandberg’s funeral will be held Friday in the town of Aitkin.

Esme Murphy

Comments