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An 'enormous shock': Police department mourns death of veteran officer

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Todd Besser, the Elk River police officer shot and killed Saturday night at a home in St. Michael, was an "all-around good guy and a pleasure to work with," according to his boss, Elk River Police Chief Ron Nierenhausen.

At a Sunday afternoon news conference, Nierenhausen described Besser, a 16-year veteran of the department, as an excellent police officer who was well-liked and had a positive influence on the city's youth over the last four years when he served as a school resource officer.

Besser, 49, had just ended a 12-hour patrol shift around 6 p.m. Saturday when he went to a home in St. Michael which is occupied by members of his family.

He and a second person, whom the Wright County Sheriff has now identified as Besser's 27-year-old son Blake Besser, were shot and killed shortly before 7 p.m., according to FOX 9.

In a Facebook posting, the Elk River Police Department called it an "enormous shock," calling officer Besser a "devoted member of our work family."

Elk River Mayor John Dietz said the two were killed in what he called “a domestic type” incident, according to the Star Tribune.

The paper reports a suspect in the killings surrendered at a convenience store in Monticello a short time later and is now in custody.

The chief and the mayor declined to discuss details of the shooting at the news conference since the investigation is ongoing. But they talked emotionally about Besser and the impact of his death on the community.

The Elk River Police Department has 32 officers, and Besser was the first one lost in department history, Nierenhausen said, adding that he and his colleagues are "taking it day by day. It's difficult to cope."

Besser loved to hunt and fish and had gotten married about a year and a half ago, according to the chief.

Mayor Dietz said as he would hear news of similar shooting incidents in other cities, he would think to himself, "God help us, I hope this never happens in Elk River." But now it has, and the city is in a state of shock.

Nierenhausen said funeral arrangements will be made within the next few days.

The Wright County Sheriff's Department is leading the investigation into the shooting, and the Wright County Attorney will decide what charges to bring against the suspect.

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