Mahnomen deputy's 'vital signs are very strong'Christopher Dewey, 26, is in critical but stable condition following two surgeries that lasted roughly four hours. He is in a medically induced coma at Fargo’s MeritCare Hospital, where he was airlifted after being shot twice just after 7 a.m.
By: Brittany Lawonn, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Alexandria Echo Press
Doctors are “optimistic” that a Mahnomen County, Minn., sheriff’s deputy will survive his injuries after being shot in the head and abdomen Wednesday while responding to a report of shots fired.
Christopher Dewey, 26, is in critical but stable condition following two surgeries that lasted roughly four hours. He is in a medically induced coma at Fargo’s MeritCare Hospital, where he was airlifted after being shot twice just after 7 a.m.
Dewey’s “vital signs are very strong,” but he suffered a severe brain injury from the gunshot wound to the right, front side of his head, a surgeon said Wednesday during a news conference.
“He will almost definitely need future surgery for his head injury,” said Dr. Robert Sticca, a general surgeon who operated on Dewey’s abdomen wound and found an entrance and exit wound while repairing a laceration to the liver. A neurosurgeon operated on Dewey’s head wound after the first surgery.
Doctors are monitoring the functioning on his left side and watching for swelling of the brain, but the brain injury makes it difficult for doctors to give a prognosis at this time, Sticca said.
“As with any neurologic injury … it takes many months often times to get the final outcome,” he said, noting that Dewey will likely be hospitalized for several weeks.
Sticca credited the quick response of officials in Mahnomen who stabilized Dewey before he arrived at Fargo MeritCare via LifeFlight air ambulance at 8:25 a.m.
“They did exactly what they’re supposed to do,” he said, noting Dewey arrived in very stable condition.
The deputy was partially awake in Mahnomen before being placed on a ventilator. He was not awake when he arrived in Fargo, Sticca said.
Several area law enforcement officials spent Wednesday at MeritCare supporting members of Dewey’s family, including his wife of a little more than a year.
“This incident goes through the law enforcement community like a torch,” Laney said. “It is something that, you know, we prepare for, we train for every single day and we know that every day that we put on the uniform and hit the street that this could be the day that something happens. And unfortunately, this was the day it happened. You’re going to see a very strong law enforcement commitment to our brother and his family.”
The law enforcement community in Mahnomen County is particularly tight-knit, with about 18 people between the Sheriff’s Department and county attorney’s office, County Attorney Julie Bruggeman said.
“It’s a small community,” Bruggeman said. “You work so closely with them that you’re there for them.”
She described her relationship with Dewey as similar to that of a family, noting he is a charismatic man with a good sense of humor and a prankster mindset.
“If someone wasn’t chipper, he’d make them chipper,” Bruggeman said.
Dewey, an avid hunter and fisherman, has been with the department for four years and also works as a volunteer rural firefighter. It is his first law enforcement job after graduating from Hibbing Community College in 2003. The school released statements Wednesday giving thoughts and prayers to Dewey’s family and fellow officers.
Dewey “was an excellent student who graduated with high distinction,” said Steve Lorenz, director of the school’s law enforcement program.
It is unclear whether Dewey was wearing a bullet-proof vest. Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney, who is acting as spokesman for the family, said each department sets its own regulations and he was unaware of Mahnomen’s policy.
“I don’t know too many in the field that don’t wear them,” Laney said, noting his department does not mandate vests, but recommends them.
Forum reporter Patrick Springer contributed to this report.
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