UPDATE: Iraq War veteran ID’d as shooterLAKE CITY — A police officer remains in critical condition after being shot in the head Monday morning, and the shooter, an Iraq War veteran, is dead.
By: Sarah Gorvin and Danielle Nordine, The Republican Eagle
LAKE CITY — A police officer remains in critical condition after being shot in the head Monday morning, and the shooter, an Iraq War veteran, is dead.
Alan J. Sylte Jr., 25, of Hager City shot Lake City police officer Shawn Schneider, 32, at 618 W. Lyon Ave. when Schneider and another officer responded to a reported domestic involving a handgun, Wabasha County Sheriff's Office said.
Sylte later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the Mayo Clinic Medical Examiner’s Office reported Tuesday after a preliminary autopsy
Schneider was taken to Mayo Clinic Health System in Lake City before being airlifted to St. Marys Hospital in Rochester. Lake City Police Chief Gary Majchrzak said he visited the hospital Monday and, while Schneider is not talking, there are reports he is responsive.
“He’s holding his own. He’s got a lot of support over there,” Majchrzak said.
Schneider has been with the department for nine years, Sgt. Cory Kubista said. The officer is married and has three school-aged children.
“He is an outstanding member of the community,” Kubista said at a press conference Monday evening, the fourth of the day.
Schneider has been involved in training programs with the force, officers said.
“He knew how to handle himself. He knew how to handle a scene,” Majchrzak said.
But the situation played out quickly, Wabasha County Sheriff Rodney Bartsh said. He listened over the scanner as events unfolded. “It went from one thing to another and then ‘Officer down,’” he said.
The call that sent Schneider to the home came to Lake City police at 8:31 by a relative of the female who had been inside the house with Sylte. That female has been identified by local residents as a high school senior, but authorities wouldn’t confirm her age or name.
Police reported that she got out safely. The other officer also was not injured.
Two officers were sent because of the nature of the situation, Lake City police said.
“Every domestic of course to an officer is high-risk,” Majchrzak said.
Authorities believed Sylte had retreated back into the home after the shooting but they cordoned off a perimeter and warned the public to “stay vigilant.”
Law enforcement officials had tried throughout the day to make contact with Sylte but weren’t able to do so. Because of information that Sylte served in the military and had demolition experience, Bartsh said extra precautions were taken.
Official records show Sylte served in the Wisconsin National Guard as a combat engineer, according to the Pierce County Veterans Service Office. He served in Iraq for nearly four months before being honorably discharged in the summer of 2010. He was part of the 724th Engineer Battalion headquartered in Chippewa Falls, Wis.
The Bloomington Bomb Squad was at the scene and authorities used an armored vehicle resembling a Bobcat to break through the doors and windows before entering.
The procedure took time but was meant to make the situation safer, authorities said.
“We had one officer wounded and we didn’t want the same thing to happen again,” Bartsh said. “I’m OK with how long it took.”
Police said they found the body upstairs around 6 p.m.
Homes in the area had been evacuated that morning. Bluff View Elementary School, Lincoln High School and St. John's Lutheran School went into lockdown at the recommendation of local law enforcement. They remained in lockdown hours past regular school closings, but students were released after the body was found Monday evening. Some were picked up by parents while bus routes also ran, authorities said.
Many local businesses were notified of the situation as well, some of which closed down for much of the day.
More than 100 law enforcement officials were on the scene, including Lake City, Wabasha and Red Wing police, Goodhue, Wabasha and Olmsted sheriff’s deputies and officials from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Minnesota State Patrol.
Authorities will continue investigating how the situation played out, officials said. Once their investigation is complete, they will bring their findings to the Wabasha County Attorney’s Office.
They encouraged anyone with information to contact the Wabasha County Sheriff’s Office at 651-345-3391 or the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension at 651-793-7000. The BCA is the lead agency.
— Staff writer Regan Carstensen contributed to this report.