REDBY, Minn. (FOX 9) - A 28-year-old man accused of shooting and killing a police officer on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota Tuesday is now facing federal charges in the case.
Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged David Donnell Jr. of Redby with second-degree murder and four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in the shooting death of Red Lake Police Officer Ryan Bialke.
According to the complaint, the Red Lake Tribal Police Department responded to a call for a welfare check at Donnell’s home early Tuesday morning after his girlfriend asked her mother to call police because Donnell was suicidal. Five officers responded to Donnell’s house. While on their way to the scene, they learned he had an active warrant.
When officers approached the house, they found Donnell standing on the outside porch. They tried to get him to walk off the porch towards them, but he went inside the house. They talked to Donnell through an open window in an attempt to get him to come outside, but he refused.
The officers attempted to breach the door to take Donnell into custody on the tribal warrant. Officer Bialke reportedly kicked the front door, at which point gunfire erupted from inside the house in the direction of the officers, according to the complaint. Officer Bialke was struck by the gunfire through the door.
Gunfire continued from inside the house toward the remaining four officers. One officer returned fire before the group retreated into the woods.
Officer Bialke succumbed to his injuries and died at the scene.
Shortly after the shooting, a witness saw Donnell leaving the scene holding a rifle. Officers then received a phone call from Donnell’s girlfriend, who lives two houses west of the scene. She told police Donnell came to her house and she took a firearm away from him. He was arrested shortly thereafter.
Officer Bialke, a father of six, became a police officer at the age of 31 and moved from his hometown of Buffalo, Minnesota to the Red Lake Reservation six years ago.
"That inner want to protect people and to serve really drove him to go to school and become a police officer because he was so passionate about it," said Amanda Bialke, Ryan’s sister-in-law.
Ryan’s cousin Eric Sjelin said he believes Ryan would have knowingly sacrificed his life if it meant saving the other officers there.
"I can’t speak for Ryan, but I know that if he knew that was going to happen, he would do it again," Sjelin said. "He always cared about somebody else before he cared about himself."
Law enforcement agencies from across the state have expressed their condolences for the Red Lake Police Tribal Police Department following Bialke’s death. The Red Lake Tribal Council directed all tribal programs and businesses to lower flags to half-staff for the rest of the week in honor of the fallen officer.