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CROOKSTON, Minn. - Police here fatally shot a man wielding a hatchet as he charged at officers early Thursday.

According to Crookston police, officers encountered the man swinging a hatchet shortly before 1 a.m. in a residential area near the Polk County Government Center. The man "rapidly approached" police, who initially used less-lethal measures to stop him, said Police Chief Darin Selzler.

But as the man continued to advance toward officers, they shot him, then performed life-saving efforts. The man later died at RiverView Health Hospital in Crookston.

Officials declined to say whether the officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard in police shootings. It was also unclear if they were wearing and operating body cameras, which is required under department policy.

That information, along with the name of the deceased, will be released later. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is leading the investigation, said it would share more details once it completes a preliminary investigation.

The person who reported the shooting to 911 declined to comment when the Star Tribune knocked on their door.

"We just don't see this here. I'm at a loss for words and I feel sorry for everybody involved. It's a tragic event here," said Mayor Dale Stainbrook, who said he couldn't believe that he was forced to take a detour around a crime scene on his drive to work.

Shane Mulvey, who lives on Broadway about a block north of the crime scene, said he was in bed when he heard the shooting.

"I think it was like five shots in a row," he said. "And I thought at first, 'That was fireworks,' and then I was like, 'No, that doesn't sound right … that must be a gunshot.' So I looked out there a little bit later and I see cops, everything, ambulances pulled up."

The Irish transplant, whose wife is from Minnesota, said he's lived in Crookston for three years.

"It's a bit different, not something I've been particularly used to," he said of the shooting, while walking his dogs Finnegan and Hercules.

A large swath of the neighborhood on Thursday remained cordoned at the intersection of N. Broadway and E. 7th Street, where officials with the Polk County Sheriff's Office, Crookston Police, the State Patrol and BCA were canvassing the area on foot and via drone.

The crime scene in Crookston, Minn., where police fatally shot an armed suspect Thursday.
The crime scene in Crookston, Minn., where police fatally shot an armed suspect Thursday.

Kim Hyatt

Karen Danielson, 63, a lifelong Crookston resident, lives kitty-corner to the crime scene. After watching law enforcement officers work since 1 a.m., she drove to the grocery store and returned with a bag full of cookies for them. "I'll do anything for you guys, just let me know," she told Officer Sean Murphy.

Stainbrook, who has lived in Crookston since 1960, said a police shooting "can happen anywhere" — even Crookston, which he considers one of Minnesota's safest cities. He said the shooting was the first fatal use-of-force incident in recent memory. "We just don't see that in our community," he said.

Though the farming and college city of 7,300 is typically quiet, some neighbors recalled an incident last year in the same neighborhood that also drew a large police presence, when a man stabbed his mother. Kevin Corona was convicted in February of attempted murder in the March 2023 stabbing of Angie Gonzalez, who survived the attack. Corona is incarcerated at the state prison in St. Cloud with an anticipated release date of 2036.