"A tragedy all the way around"LAKE CITY — “This just doesn’t happen in Lake City,” resident Travis Coyle said.
By: Sarah Gorvin and Danielle Nordine, The Republican Eagle
LAKE CITY — “This just doesn’t happen in Lake City,” resident Travis Coyle said.
That was a common reaction locals shared while watching events surrounding the shooting of police officer Shawn Schneider unfold Monday.
Coyle and many others sat outside for much of the day with friends, just watching, even though law enforcement officials cautioned the suspect was “armed and dangerous.” Authorities and news media swarmed the town Monday as residents looked on from behind barricaded perimeters around 618 W. Lyon Ave.
Schneider was shot in the head early that morning while responding to a call at that address about a domestic situation involving a gun. He is in critical condition.
“Everyone’s a little rattled. It’s a small town and that’s pretty scary stuff,” said Joan Kaartinen, who owns Creative Minds in Lake City and has two school-aged children.
“It was kind of surreal just watching everything unfold,” Lake City resident John Gruber echoed. “To have it happen in your town and neighborhood is pretty tough to fathom.”
Gruber’s daughter Abby, on break from college, was at their home near the scene Monday. Her parents called and eventually told her to lock up the house and go down to the basement, she said.
On her way down, Abby looked out the front door and saw Schneider being taken away from the scene.
John Gruber had gotten as close to his home as he could and flagged down a state trooper to get Abby out. “He and another trooper with full guns drawn went and escorted her from our house,” he said.
“I was a little shaken up,” Abby said. She noted the troopers “had huge guns” and “told me to run where my dad was” past the barricaded area.
“I didn’t really exactly understand the severity of what was going on,” she said.
Residents waited anxiously throughout the day as officers tried to make contact with the suspect in the shooting, Alan Sylte Jr., who died after shooting himself.
“We would like to know that the guy is caught,” Nancy Fawthorp, who lives nearby, said Monday.
Authorities believed he was in the home, but advised the local schools to go on lockdown and the public to stay alert.
Alongside the other roughly 1,250 students and 165 staff members in the Lake City School District, Gruber’s other daughter, Claire, was on lockdown at school. St. John’s Lutheran School also closed its doors.
Parents were told to stay away from the schools until the lockdown was lifted. But Gruber said the district did a “fantastic job” keeping the community updated on what was happening by calling and posting updates on the district’s website.
Residents around the West Lyon Avenue home also were evacuated, and many couldn’t return until the evening hours Monday.
Trying to piece together what happened that morning, authorities have been interviewing people throughout the neighborhood.
“Now they’re boarding up the windows (on the home) and there’s caution tape everywhere,” Abby added.
As the investigation continues, Lake City residents are banding together. A fund has been set up at Alliance Bank to collect money for Schneider’s family to help pay expenses, and residents also are leaving their porch lights on for the next few days to show support for the Schneider family.
“It’s a tragedy all the way around, especially at this time of year,” John Gruber said. “Our hearts go out to the officer and his family.”
How you can help
A fund has been set up to help Lake City officer Shawn Schneider's family with unforeseen expenses. Contributions can be sent or taken to:
Shawn Schneider Family Support Fund
c/o: Kathy Moyer
105 E. Lyon Ave.
Lake City, MN 55041