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Tom Cherveny, Forum News Service, Published September 18 2013

Granite Falls victim identified Dikken as shooter before he died

GRANITE FALLS, Minn. – Andrew Dikken entered the house of Kara Monson in Granite Falls sometime after 3 a.m. Sept. 2 and turned on the lights and began shooting her and Chris Panitzke as they were sleeping in a bed, according to the allegations in a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in Yellow Medicine County District Court.

It charges Andrew Joseph Dikken, 28, of Granite Falls, formerly of Renville, with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Monson, 26, of Granite Falls, and Panitzke, 28, of Redwood Falls.

Dikken is being held in the Yellow Medicine County Jail in Granite Falls, and is scheduled to appear on the charges this morning in District Court in Granite Falls.

Monson died at the scene of multiple gunshot wounds. Her boyfriend, Panitzke, remained conscious and made the 911 call that summoned help. He told the first officers that arrived at the scene about 3:28 a.m. that “Andy” Dikken had shot them.

Panitzke again identified Dikken as the assailant when questioned by another officer at the Granite Falls Hospital emergency room, where he was first taken for medical care, according to the complaint.

Panitzke was airlifted to the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, where he died Sept. 8 of complications from multiple gunshot wounds.

The complaint also alleges that Monson had received text messages from Dikken within hours of the shooting. Investigators also learned that Dikken had sent a threatening message to one of Monson’s family members that indicated he was threatening Monson’s life, according to the complaint.

Monson and Panitzke were the only two people in the home at the time of the shooting. Monson’s 5-year-old daughter, Poppy, was not present.

Missing gun

Panitzke told officers in the home that Dikken had apparently not been in a hurry to leave after shooting the two of them. Panitzke heard the suspect walking around the house. Dikken had a previous relationship with Monson, and had lived for a time at the home, which is listed as his home address in the criminal complaint.

About the time that officers arrived at the home in response to the 911 call, a video camera at a convenience store about three blocks away on U.S. Highway 212 West captured images of Dikken buying cigarettes and pop.

His 1996 GMC pickup was located Sept. 4 in a gravel pit off Redwood County Road 7 near the Minnesota River. A gun case was found in the vehicle that matches the description of a case for the gun that is believed to have been used in the shootings.

The complaint does not indicate what caliber gun was used, but stated that investigators believe it was a gun that had been taken without permission from a person related to Dikken. The person discovered in the last few days that the gun was missing, according to the complaint.

The caliber of the stolen gun was consistent with the caliber of the shell casings recovered at the scene and of the bullets recovered by the medical examiner. The complaint does not state whether the weapon has been recovered.

Media attention

Dikken’s apprehension and the opening of the charges against him Wednesday brought a flurry of media attention to the case. Eric Monson, a first cousin to the victim who has acted as a family spokesman, said Wednesday that the family is relieved that Dikken has been caught and looking forward to seeing closure through the justice system.

Both Monson and Panitzke are survived by young daughters, and the defendant has a son.

Dikken had not been seen from the time of the shooting until 3 p.m. Tuesday, when he showed up at his parents’ home in Renville. They immediately turned him into the Renville County Sheriff’s Office in Olivia. The family has been cooperating with investigators since the shooting, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Since the night of the shooting, Dikken had been the focus of a search that included law officers from a multitude of state agencies, area county sheriff’s and police departments. Ground, air and water searches in the area where the vehicle had been recovered provided no clues as to Dikken’s whereabouts.

As of Wednesday, Dikken was not speaking to investigators and had not offered any information about where he had been in the 15 days after the shooting.