UPDATE THURSDAY: Possible motive emerges in shooting
Two suspects who were found dead after a shoot-out with a Douglas County deputy Monday didn’t die from that exchange of gunfire.
Authorities are calling it a murder-suicide.
On Wednesday, the Ramsey County Medical Examiner identified the suspects as Katie Rae Christopherson, 29, and Devin Blowers, 24. Their last known permanent addresses are in Fargo, North Dakota. Christopherson has family members in Glenwood.
Investigators at this time believe that Blowers shot Christopherson before turning the gun on himself.
The couple became engaged in December, according to Blowers’ Facebook page.
Blowers was distraught because child welfare officials in Fargo wouldn’t let the couple have custody of their baby girl, according to the Star Tribune, which interviewed Blower’s father, Jeff Blowers, who lives in Minot. “She [Christopherson] called her mother the day before and he called us, saying he was going to commit suicide,” Blowers told Star Tribune reporter Curt Brown.
The two suspects had a history of drug and alcohol-related problems. According to online court records, Blowers pleaded guilty in Cass County last Thursday to ingesting a controlled substance, a misdemeanor, and was placed on probation for a year.
A warrant was out for Christopherson’s arrest after she was charged earlier this month, also in Cass County, with felony possession of drug paraphernalia. In 2010, she pleaded guilty to a felony charge of giving a false name at a hospital in an attempt to get drugs.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is still investigating the shooting.
According to its preliminary investigation, at 9:51 p.m. on February 24, Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Dustin Alexander responded to the scene of a suspicious vehicle call at 3140 50th Avenue in Hudson Township, just southeast of Alexandria.
The vehicle was parked at the end of a driveway on private property.
Alexander obtained identification from Christopherson and Blowers and briefly returned to his squad car.
According to the preliminary investigation, at 9:56 p.m. when Alexander returned to the vehicle a second time, Blowers shot the deputy in the chest, striking him in his bullet-resistant vest.
Alexander returned fire.
The suspects fled in their vehicle, a small four-door sedan, but became stuck in the snow approximately 50 to 60 yards away. Both then fled on foot, firing more shots toward Alexander.
Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the scene.
A Minnesota State Patrol helicopter used an infrared imaging device to locate the suspects in a wooded area, about 200 yards from the vehicle.
Deputies then approached the suspects and found both of them dead in deep snow near an outbuilding. A handgun and a shotgun were recovered near their bodies.
The search took about four hours.
Alexander was treated at Douglas County Hospital and released. Alexander has been with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office for three years and is a member of the Douglas County SWAT team. He is on standard administrative leave.
The BCA is investigating the incident with assistance from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Alexandria Police Department, the Minnesota State Patrol, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and several other local law enforcement agencies.
When the investigation is complete, the BCA will present its findings to the Douglas County Attorney’s Office for review.
At a news conference Tuesday, Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen said the bullet-proof vest likely saved the deputy’s life.
“It’s hard to say what would have happened if he wasn’t wearing the vest,” Wolbersen said. “Where he was struck, that certainly would have killed him.”
When asked if this incident could be related to other recent crimes in the area – an armed robbery at a Subway restaurant and a burglary at the Douglas County Animal Hospital – Wolbersen said that investigators are looking into all possibilities.