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Man treated in a hospital grabs officer’s gun, kills him

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  • The BCA mobile command center sits outside St. Cloud Hospital today after an early morning incident where a sheriff deputy was fatally shot

ST. CLOUD, Minn. » A suspect in a domestic incident who was being treated at a Minnesota hospital grabbed a gun from a sheriff’s deputy and killed the officer early Sunday, prompting hospital security officers to subdue the suspect with a stun gun, authorities said.

After the suspect was taken into custody he died, despite efforts by medical personnel to revive him.

The struggle happened early Sunday at St. Cloud Hospital in the suspect’s room, said Drew Evans, superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He said the suspect was not handcuffed at the time. Investigators are still trying to determine what led up to the shooting.

"Several shots were fired during that struggle and then security officers were able to get into the room, and the suspect was tased with a Taser, and taken into custody," Evans said at a news conference. "After he was taken into custody he became unresponsive. Medical personnel performed lifesaving operations on him and he died at that time."

Evans said the Aitkin County deputy killed was Steven Martin Sandberg, a 60-year-old investigator with the sheriff’s office. The suspect was identified as Danny Leroy Hammond, 50, who lived near the city of Aitkin. Evans said autopsies were being performed on both of them and the medical examiner would determine more about how the suspect died.

The superintendent said Hammond was subdued by two hospital security guards with the help of another AitkinCounty deputy, who had just arrived to relieve Sandberg.

Sandberg had been with department since 1981 and an investigator for 20 years, Aitkin County Sheriff Scott Turner said.

Evans and hospital vice president Kurt Otto declined to say why Hammond was being treated at the hospital in St. Cloud, which is about 60 miles northwest of Minneapolis. Otto said the hospital had asked the sheriff’s office to send deputies to monitor Hammond because of the "seriousness" of the domestic incident, which happened sometime earlier in the week. They would not say how long Hammond had been in the hospital except that it was more than a day.

He said investigators had a lot of work ahead of them, including interviewing hospital staffers who were on duty at the time.

Hammond had been convicted of felony crimes including escaping from custody in 1990, third-degree burglary in 1989 and terrorist threats in 1990, according to court records. All the convictions were for crimes committed inAitkin County.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton condemned the deputy’s death and offered condolences to his family.

"I deplore the terrible, senseless murder of Deputy Sheriff Steven Sandberg," Dayton said in a statement.

A woman answering the phone at Sandberg’s home said nobody from the family was ready to comment. Hammond’s home does not have a listed phone number.

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