Mahnomen community mourns the loss of Deputy Chris DeweyMahnomen, Minn. (WDAY TV) - The close knit sheriff's department in Mahnomen County, Minnesota is grieving tonight over the loss of one of its own, Deputy Chris Dewey. A year and a half ago, while responding to a call, Dewey was shot in the head and stomach. Today he lost the difficult battle to recovery. Dewey's passing now leaves a gaping whole in the department.
Deputy Chris Dewey was only 26 and was on the department for four years. In his short time on the force, he made a lasting impression on everyone he worked with, someone they say can never be replaced.
“Being on duty, it's not always easy to ride around in a squad car and keep your mind on your job, but we do have a job to do.”
It's been a rough day for Mahnomen County Deputy Brad Teich. The nine-year veteran knew Dewey well; he worked alongside him for four years.
“We certainly aren't going to be able to replace Chris. Chris was the gentle giant of the group.
For the 14 deputies and the rest of this tight knit department, grief counselors will be on hand for those who need them.
“Normal is going to take a different direction. It started taking a different direction the day that the incident happened.”
A comfort for many is knowing that Dewey is in a better place, free of suffering.
“Chris, right now, is probably sitting in a fishing boat some place, throwing a line out in the water. Because he loved to fish and he loved being with his family and Emily, he's going to be greatly missed.”
As for Deputy Teich, closure and healing will come with justice for the men accused of taking Dewey's life.
“Getting past the trial, hoping we can get a good conviction out of it, and train, train hard.”
Dewey's funeral will be next Wednesday at the Living Word Church in Plymouth at 11. The entire department is planning to attend. Officers from across the state have volunteered to come to Mahnomen and fill in so there are people on duty.
Deputies are honoring Dewey's sacrifice in many ways. The flag in front of the county courthouse flies at half staff, and will stay that way until after the funeral. Officers are also wearing a black band on their badges to mark the passing of one of their own. Those will stay on until after the funeral as well. Dewey's badge number will also be retired.
Dewey's passing will mean stiffer charges for the man accused of pulling the trigger. Minnesota's Attorney General says she plans to file upgraded charges against Thomas Fairbanks.
Fairbanks was originally charged with attempted murder, and several counts of assault. Daniel Vernier admitted last fall to being an accomplice. He was sentenced to 2-years in prison. No word if he'll face additional charges.