Roommate blames 'alcoholism' in Elk River officer's shooting death

Off-duty Elk River police officer Todd Besser and his 27-year-old son Blake were fatally shot in a St. Michael, Minn. home Saturday night, and the officer's younger son is currently in custody after turning himself in. Chris Besser, 21, is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tuesday morning.

On Saturday at 7:06 p.m., Wright County sheriff's officials said a man called 911 saying he had been shot on the 4500 block of Mayfield Avenue Northeast. Deputies found Blake Besser dead in the kitchen from an apparent gunshot wound and officer Todd Besser, 49, dead in the basement, also with an apparent gunshot wound.

About 45 minutes later, Chris Besser called police to turn himself in from the Kwik Stop gas station in Monticello. Wright County deputies took him into custody without incident. The Wright County sheriff's office is investigating and said the incident "appears to be a domestic situation," and they are not seeking any other suspects.

Roommate blames 'alcoholism'

Ashley Elowson has lived in the Besser's home for more than 3 years. For her, they were family. She was not home at the time of the shooting, but she claimed Besser's "alcoholism" was a factor.

"All of the Bessers, they got really big hearts, but they got that tough guy thing," she said. "They were brothers to me. I called them my boys."

She added Officer Besser was like a father.

"He told me someday when you get married, it would be my honor to walk you down the aisle," she said.

Elowson still can't believe what happened Saturday evening, but did say Chris battled a nasty alcohol addiction that was getting uglier and uglier in recent days. She figures he used one of the hunting style weapons the family kept in the house.

"I don't know. My assumption is that he was so drunk, he didn't know what he was doing," she said.

Funeral set

The Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Association (LEMA) announced funeral services for officer Besser and his son Blake will take place on Sunday, May 17 at Elk River High School. The public is welcome.

A visitation will begin at Elk River High School from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. followed immediately by the funeral in the school gym. Following the service a law enforcement procession with family, officers and community members will make its way to Orono Cemetery in Elk River for a burial service.

A memorial fund has been established in Officer Besser's name:

Bank of Elk River
633 Main Street
Elk River, MN

This is the only official memorial fund.

LEMA is assisting the Elk River Police Department with funeral arrangements and will also be providing honor guard support for the funeral.

Elk River police statement

"In addition to his 16 years as a police officer with the City of Elk River, Officer Besser was also a military veteran with 12 years active duty in the United States Air Force. He continued his military service with the United States Air Force Reserve in Minneapolis retiring with more than 20 years of combined service. Prior to his hiring with the Elk River Police Department, Officer Besser was a Corrections Officer with Washington County.

Officer Besser was a highly decorated police officer with the department receiving the Medal of Valor, two Life Saving awards, three Unit Citations, and a Police Service Ribbon. In addition, he was a firearms instructor, SWAT Negotiator, Field Training Officer, and spent four years as a detective."

Flags were lowered to half staff Monday morning in Officer Besser's honor.

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