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The Douglas County Board of Commissioners took some time Tuesday to recognize (left to right) Communications Officers Michael Henrion and Karey Payne, and Deputy Dustin Alexander for their actions in a dangerous situation on the night of February 24. Henrion and Payne helped coordinate the emergency response when Alexander was shot by the driver of a suspicious vehicle. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

Heroes in the face of danger

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When the driver of a suspicious vehicle opened fire on a Douglas County deputy without warning on the night of February 24, officials jumped into action and responded to a dangerous situation.

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The Douglas County Board of Commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting took some time to honor the actions of Deputy Dustin Alexander and dispatchers Karey Payne and Michael Henrion after the suspect had opened fire.

At around 10 p.m. on February 24, Alexander responded to the report of a suspicious vehicle call southeast of Alexandria in Hudson Township. While Alexander spoke with two suspects in the vehicle, the driver pulled out a handgun and shot the deputy from point-blank range in the chest. A bulletproof vest he was wearing fortunately stopped the bullet, likely keeping the situation from becoming much worse.

“It was a very horrible night, and everybody responded above and beyond what I could ever imagine for that situation,” Alexander said. “For me, personally, it’s something that I’m never going to forget.”

During the presentation, Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen praised the response by Alexander once the gunman opened fire. Alexander was able to retreat back to his squad car and call for help on the car’s radio.

“Deputy Dustin Alexander, after being shot, used his instincts, his experience and his training, and he was able to return fire and move back to the cover of his squad car,” Wolbersen said. “He continued to receive fire from the suspect while doing this, yet was able to call out on his radio that he had been shot and began communicating with dispatch and other responding units.”

Dispatchers quickly responded, communicating with officials about the emergency and coordinating an effort to get help to Alexander. Wolbersen expressed his gratitude toward Payne and Henrion to stay focused on their duties and manage the response of emergency personnel.

“Hearing that their friend and coworker had been shot had to be horrifying, but communications officers Payne and Henrion remained calm and coordinated the effort to get help to Deputy Alexander,” said Wolbersen.

The suspects attempted to flee in their vehicle but only managed to travel 50 to 60 yards before becoming stuck in the snow. That is when they made the decision to flee on foot.

Wolbersen said Alexander “showed tremendous restraint and control” by deciding not to return fire on the suspects once they fled the vehicle, a good decision as, at the time, he did not know the involvement of the unarmed passenger. The two suspects, Devin Blowers and Katie Christopherson of Fargo, were later found dead a short distance away. Investigators determined that Blowers shot Christopherson before turning the gun on himself.

Alexander also took some time at the meeting to thank the dispatchers and other law enforcement who responded to the scene.

“Thank you to Mike and Karey that night, and a lot of guys that responded that night,” Alexander said. “It was a sticky, very horrible situation.”

Alexander was placed on a short administrative leave after the incident and returned to work approximately a week later.

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Blaze Fugina
Blaze Fugina is a sports reporter at the Echo Press. Before working in Alexandria, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. He previously worked as the community editor of the Mound Laker for more than a year. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.
(320) 763-1230
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