Detroit Lakes policeman found dead near his home
DETROIT LAKES - A 19-year veteran of the Detroit Lakes Police Department died Sunday evening near his home from a gunshot wound, apparently self-inflicted.
Patrol Officer Chad Jutz was well-regarded and active both in Detroit Lakes and the Frazee community, where his family has deep roots, said Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon, who was serving as spokesman for the case on Monday.
"He died of a gunshot wound," Gordon said. "No foul play is suspected."
Jutz was not under any kind of investigation, Gordon said.
His body was found by a friend about 8 p.m. Sunday on wooded recreational land that Jutz owned off County Road 54, "down the road a way," from the house he shared with his wife and four children.
Gordon declined to provide details about the case because it is still officially under investigation.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is handling the investigation because it would be emotionally difficult for local officers who knew Jutz.
The Detroit Lakes Police Department was closed Monday and deputies, White Earth tribal police officers and part-time officers were handling patrol duties for the city.
That started Sunday evening and will continue perhaps through Tuesday, Gordon said.
"We wanted to help out with their grieving process," Gordon said. "It's a huge loss in a department that size."
There are 16 officers, investigators and other employees, including Chief Tim Eggebraaten, in the Detroit Lakes Police Department.
"A crisis team right now is meeting with the (police) department," Gordon said late Monday morning. Police officers, police station employees, firefighters and others attended the session at the Detroit Lakes Fire Hall.
"A tragedy like this affects law enforcement like a family -- you're with that person day in and day out, you're always in the (patrol) car together -- the bonds are there," Gordon said.
Deputies and tribal police are filling in during a time of grief and strong emotions, much like they did when Mahnomen County Deputy Chris Dewey was shot in 2009.
Becker County deputies and dispatchers filled in for Mahnomen County sheriff's staff for more than a week after that shooting, Gordon said.
Tribal Police Chief Randy Goodwin and Gordon wanted the city police officers "to have the ability to work through the process," Gordon said. "We want people in the community to know that the (law enforcement) people who show up are focused on their problem."
County Road 54 is also known as the Hidden Hills Road, and Gordon said officers spent about three hours doing traffic control there Sunday evening after news of the shooting broke on social media.
After the call came in, a half dozen Detroit Lakes police cars and two St. Mary's EMS ambulances -- spaced over several minutes -- were seen speeding down Highway 10 with their emergency lights and sirens activated. The sirens were heard from Floyd Lake to Frazee.
Less than an hour after the incident, the news had spread widely throughout the community via social media like Facebook, Gordon said. There was a steady stream of motorists on the Hidden Hills Road, and officers turned away well-meaning people who wanted to stop by with condolences for the family.
The death of the usually amiable, upbeat Jutz shocked both law enforcement and the wider community.
"We have had this happen before with public employees," Gordon said, "but never with anybody this well known and out in the community."