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Patrick Springer, Published February 18 2009

LATEST NEWS: Mahnomen standoff ends when suspected gunman surrenders to officers

MAHNOMEN, Minn. – Shortly after 4 p.m. today, an eight-hour siege and standoff that left one deputy hospitalized with gunshot wounds ended when a suspect peacefully surrendered.

The suspect in the standoff walked out of the home and surrendered to SWAT teams and other police who had surrounded a mobile home.

The suspect, who has not been identified, had been in intermittent contact by phone with police throughout the day, authorities said.

“I don’t know what his state of mind was,” said Dave Bjerga, deputy superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Previously, another man surrendered to law enforcement officers.

The suspects were identified tonight as 32-year-old Thomas Lee Fairbanks and Daniel Kurt Vernier, 27.

About an hour before the second suspect surrendered this afternoon, law enforcement officers had made a second evacuation sweep around the home to get residents from a wider area to leave.

Earlier in the day, shortly after the 7 a.m. shooting, the immediate area surrounding the home had been evacuated. Police had blocked off a four-block square perimeter to contain the area.

The first suspect, described as a friend of the other man, had surrendered at about 9 a.m. today. Although the men were believed to be armed, no guns were immediately found. However, a BCA evidence team was searching area.

Authorities said the first suspect to leave the home was questioned by law enforcement officers but had not been charged. They said any charges will be filed by Julie Bruggeman, the Mahnomen County attorney.

The standoff ensued after reports around 4 a.m. this morning that a possible drunken driver had left the Shooting Star Casino, a large entertainment complex in Mahnomen.

In the search for the drunken driver, a deputy found a vehicle matching the description outside a home in Mahnomen, law enforcement officers said earlier this morning, but found no suspect. About 6:20 a.m., police received a call reporting gunshots.

Deputy Christopher Dewey returned to the area to investigate at about 7:10 a.m. A minute later, another deputy reported to the scene when he received no response to a query about Dewey’s status. The second officer found Dewey lying on a driveway with gunshot wounds.

The deputy was taken to the Mahnomen hospital, then airlifted by LifeFlight helicopter ambulance to MeritCare Hospital at 8:25 a.m., where he was undergoing surgery and in critical condition, the sheriff said.