A high-speed police chase that started in Blaine and ended just south of Braham concluded with shots being fired by both the suspect and law enforcement, resulting in an Anoka K-9 officer being wounded and one of the two suspects being declared dead at the scene. Another officer, from an unknown agency, was hospitalized due to injuries associated with the initial incident in Blaine.
According to a press release from the Isanti County Sheriff’s Office, at 12:58 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 21, officers with the Blaine Police Department responded to a theft call at the cluster of stores located on Baltimore Street NE. Upon arrival, the suspects allegedly stole one vehicle and then carjacked another at gun point after the first vehicle was disabled by law enforcement.
The suspects drove onto Highway 65, and at that point, a high-speed pursuit commenced. This pursuit continued north on Highway 65 through Anoka and Isanti County, with speeds eclipsing 100 miles-per-hour before the suspects’ vehicle was disabled in the median of the Highway 65/Highway 107 intersection, whereupon the suspects fled on foot and shots were fired, striking an Anoka Police Department K-9 named Bravo.
Officers first on the scene responded by firing their weapon(s), striking and killing one of the suspects. The other suspect was apprehended without further incident.
As of Monday evening, Feb. 22, the Anoka Police Department reported a bullet had nicked Bravo’s trachea and went through his shoulder, however doctors determined intubation during surgery might cause further damage, so they decided not to perform surgery and let the wounds heal on their own, and he had been released from the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center and was recovering at home.
According to a Facebook post by Bravo’s handler, Officer Jake Sorteberg, Bravo also has a spinal fracture and soft tissue wounds in the shoulder. Sorteberg said Bravo was already able to eat some food. It is unknown, however, if he would be able to recover enough to resume his duties.
On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the identities of the two suspects were released, along with what charges were being brought against the suspect not killed. According to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, 27-year-old Dominic Koch, of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, died from multiple gunshot wounds.
The suspect taken into custody unharmed has been identified as 26-year-old Joseph W. Heroff, of Hammond, Wisconsin. He has been charged with first-degree aggravated robbery and fleeing law enforcement in a vehicle, which are both felonies. He remains in the Anoka County Jail, with bail set at $500,000.
According to the Isanti County Sheriff’s Office press release, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehensive is conducting an investigation into the shooting, with the Isanti County Sheriff’s Office co-investigating the shooting portion with the BCA since the officer-involved shooting took place in Isanti County and none of Isanti County’s officers were physically involved. Caulk said while Isanti County was called to assist in the pursuit, none of his officers were able to reach the scene until after the suspects were taken into custody.
According to Isanti County Attorney Jeff Edblad, once the BCA’s investigation is completed, it will be up to his office to determine if any charges will be made against any of the officers. On Feb. 25, the BCA announced the two other officers involved in the shooting besides Sorteberg: Officers Grant Breems and Tim Evens, both Blaine police officers, and both whom have over 23 years experience in law enforcement. All three were placed on standard leave.
Agencies involved include the Blaine, Anoka, Coon Rapids, Spring Lake Park, Braham, and Isanti Police Departments; Anoka and Isanti County Sheriff’s Office; Minnesota State Patrol; along with the Braham Fire Department.