RED LAKE -- After nearly 20 years as a conservation officer in Red Lake Nation, Shannon “Opie” Barron died near the end of his shift on Sunday.
The Red Lake Police Department posted a notice about Barron’s death and indicated it was the result of a “medical emergency,” although they did not say what that medical issue was.
“He was a staunch defender when it came to protecting the natural resources of the nation and constantly stood side by side with the officers in the department regardless of the type of call it was,” the department wrote in a Facebook post.
According to the post, Barron, 48, was near the end of his shift when he responded to a call of suspected illegal harvesting north of Red Lake. Barron helped clear the call.
Shortly after that, Barron began feeling ill enough that he sent out a radio call for emergency medical assistance. Emergency personnel attempted life-saving efforts and took Barron to the hospital in Red Lake. In spite of their efforts, Barron died. His body will be sent for an autopsy at the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office.
He was married and had two children, according to the Red Lake Police Department.
Barron had been a conservation officer for nearly 20 years since he began in 2000. He graduated from the Indian Police Academy through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Artesia, N.M.
Before becoming a conservation officer, Barron served four years as a Red Lake police officer. He graduated from Red Lake High School in 1987, according to his obituary.
After he died, multiple different organizations and individuals spoke up to recognize Barron’s legacy.
Red Lake Nation News reported that Red Lake Tribal Chairman Darrell Seki Sr. ordered flags to be flown at half mast in recognition of Barron.
Joyce Roy, a retired Red Lake Police Chief, spoke fondly of Barron and his service as a conservation officer.
“I don’t know if there is anybody who can fill his shoes; he was that kind of officer,” Roy told a Fargo-based news outlet.
His death also received recognition from various other organizations and news outlets across the region, including the TV station WCCO in the Twin Cities, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, The Minnesota Sheriff’s Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The police departments of Eden Prairie and Bloomington both indicated their officers would wear “mourning bands” over their badges in honor of Barron.
“The state of Minnesota and the Red Lake Nation share a common mission when it comes to the protection of natural resources, and Officer Barron’s legacy of upholding that mission will never be forgotten,” said Sarah Strommen, commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
An overnight wake will start at 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 10, at the Red Lake Humanities Building. The wake continues until the funeral at 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 11, also at the Red Lake Humanities Building.
Matt Henson of Forum Communications contributed to this report.