MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hundreds of people paid their respects Thursday in Aitkin for a sheriff’s investigator killed in the line of duty.

Aitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Steven Sandberg, 60, was guarding patient Danny Hammond at St. Cloud Hospital Sunday when the man grabbed his service pistol and fatally shot him. Sandberg leaves behind a wife and daughter.

“He was one of those guys who had a genuine care and concern for the well-being of the people that he was involved with,” Aitkin County Sheriff Scott Turner said.

Sandberg was known as a hometown guy who treated everyone like family. His sense of commitment to community was known throughout the area, and it was quite evident by the number of mourners who stood in line at his visitation.

“You know, it’s going to be a big hole to fill with … a hometown boy that was so proud to be part of our family,” Turner said.

Hammond, 50, died a short time later after being subdued with a stun gun. He was under watch because of his involvement in a domestic dispute.

“The one thing that is kind of echoed true by everybody who gave feedback over the years, or who have given feedback since this tragedy on Sunday is just what a caring and compassionate individual Steve was,” Turner said.

Sandberg’s absence is something most Aitkin residents are not ready to speak about. They are focused right now on remembering a man who gave so much to a community he loved dearly.

He will be laid to rest Friday with services starting at 11 a.m. at Aitkin High School. The funeral procession will travel out of Aitkin down Highway 169, and to Bennettville Cemetery off County Road 11. Thousands are expected to pay tribute.

The sheriff’s department has set up a memorial fund for Sandberg’s wife and daughter. Click here for more information.

Reg Chapman

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