Aitkin, Minn. community devastated after 20-year sheriff's deputy killed

The loss of Aitkin County Sheriff's Deputy Steven Sandberg on Sunday morning in St. Cloud is just starting to sink in for the small community of Aitkin, Minn. It's the same community he was born and raised.

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“His family's been neighbors of ours for years,” Richard and Marilyn Hesch, who also went to church with Sandberg, said.  “It's going to be a tough one, especially for a small community like this.”

Earlier, with the afternoon sun casting a shadow of sadness, the body of Sandberg was led away from St. Cloud Hospital, by a caravan of law enforcement officers from multiple agencies.  

"I hope that everyone can keep investigator Sandberg, wife and daughters in their prayers in the coming days," Aitkin County Sheriff Scott Turner said.

Investigators say Sandberg was guarding 50-year-old Danny Hammond on the 5th floor wing before some type of struggle broke out sometime before 5 a.m.  During that struggle, the deputy’s firearm was taken by the suspect and Sandberg was shot and killed.

Several security guards and another officer rushed in and tased Hammond at the scene. After he was taken into custody, he became unresponsive. Medical personnel performed life-saving operations on him and he died at that time.

Authorities say Hammond was an inmate being treated at the hospital for an undisclosed condition and was taken into custody earlier in the week on a domestic situation. He has a lengthy criminal history including convictions for burglary and terroristic threats.

Investigators are also examining how Hammond was being held in his room. 

“He was not hand cuffed, and the restraints are all part of the active investigation, we'll be looking into the exact events that transpired as part of the shooting. “

As for the sheriff's deputy, he leaves behind a wife, a daughter, and a community in mourning.  Sandberg has been with Aitkin County since 1991, serving as an investigator with them for the past 20 years.