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Dave Olson and Riham Feshir, Forum Communications, Published August 10 2010

Deputy Chris Dewey dies: Sheriff says "he's gonna be missed greatly"

MAHNOMEN, Minn. – Standing just a few miles from where Chris Dewey was shot 18 months ago, Mahnomen County Sheriff Doug Krier was mourning his former deputy’s death on Monday but thankful he is now resting peacefully.

“Chris is probably sitting in a boat somewhere throwing a line in the water,” Krier said Monday evening outside the county courthouse. “He loved to fish.”

For Dewey, the battle began Feb. 18, 2009, when he was shot once in the head and twice in the stomach while investigating a report of a drunken driver in Mahnomen.

His battle ended Monday under hospice care in the home of wife Emily’s parents near Princeton, Minn.

The message posted Monday morning on Dewey’s CaringBridge website was brief:

“Chris’s long and painful battle is over. At 10:33 a.m., he went peacefully with the Lord.”

Krier said he spoke to Emily Dewey just moments after Chris Dewey’s death. Emily Dewey told Krier that it’s OK to feel sorry, but at one point, “you just gotta feel glad.”

“He was a young man,” Krier said of Chris Dewey. “He had a good life ahead of him, but I guess it’s not meant to be.”

Dewey’s visitation will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Aug. 18, followed by the funeral in Living Word Church in Plymouth, Minn. The burial will be in Minneapolis’ Crystal Lake Cemetery.

The entire Mahnomen County Sheriff’s Department plans to attend the service, Krier said. Deputies from surrounding areas will patrol Mahnomen County while they’re gone.

“He’s gonna be missed greatly,” Krier said.

Dewey’s badge No. 909 will be retired and honored by deputies by placing it on all of the county’s squad cars.

Friend and colleague Brad Tiech remembered Dewey on Monday as a “gentle giant.”

“He was just a big kid,” Tiech said Monday. “He was always the quieter one in the room.”

Tough road

Dewey underwent numerous surgeries following the shooting, and in March 2009, he was transferred to a Colorado rehabilitation center.

He suffered a brain hemorrhage the following month, which was the start of medical setbacks that plagued Dewey through the summer and fall of 2009.

In December, more than 400 supporters raised $25,000 at a West Fargo VFW spaghetti feed.

In February, Dewey left the Colorado facility for a care center in south-central Minnesota.

He was hospitalized in early July for an infection and was given Botox injections for pain.

In mid July, the 27-year-old Dewey was placed under hospice care after a lung collapsed due to complications from the Botox injections.

Over the course of Dewey’s medical treatments, family and friends were kept informed of his status via the CaringBridge website, which was often updated by his wife.

In a recent posting, Emily Dewey said family and friends were doing what they could to make her husband’s final days comfortable.

The Dewey family is very grateful for all the support it has received, according to Sarah Fulton, a close friend of Emily Dewey.

“I’m so proud of her for being so strong,” Fulton said of her friend.

New charges coming

The man accused of shooting Dewey, Thomas Lee Fairbanks, Anoka, Minn., currently faces numerous charges, including first-degree attempted murder.

Those charges will soon be modified, according to Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, whose office is handling the case.

“Our prosecutors expect to file upgraded criminal charges in light of this tragic death,” Swanson said in a written statement Monday.

“I offer my deepest condolences to Deputy Dewey’s family,” Swanson said. “This officer was brutally attacked while protecting the community and our whole state mourns his loss.”

A co-defendant in the shooting, Daniel Kurt Vernier, pleaded guilty to charges in Mahnomen County District Court and was sentenced in September to two years in prison.

Charene Vogel, of Audubon, Minn., organized a roadside vigil for Dewey on an evening in July, when Krier drove Dewey’s squad car from Detroit Lakes to Mahnomen.

She said Monday that she never met Dewey or his family but nonetheless “wanted Chris to be honored before he passed away.”

“He’s a hero,” Vogel said.


Forum writer Dave Olson and Detroit Lakes (Minn.) Newspapers writer Riham Feshir contributed to this report.