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Moszer joins long list of those in blue who have died doing their duty

FARGO -- The shooting death of Fargo Police Officer Jason Moszer last week during a police standoff with an armed man was the 54th time a police officer died in the line of duty in North Dakota.

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A flower bouquet from an anonymous person with the message R.I.P. Jason and #weseeyou and #westandwithfargo placed in the snow at the North Dakota Peace Officers memorial in Bismarck is a solemn reminder of the killing of Fargo police officer Jason Moszer who died Thursday. The first police officer killed in North Dakota was in 1890 with the last being in 2011. (Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune.)

FARGO -- The shooting death of Fargo Police Officer Jason Moszer last week during a police standoff with an armed man was the 54th time a police officer died in the line of duty in North Dakota.

That's according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks police deaths across the U.S.

In Minnesota, there have been 239 police officer deaths recorded, Officer Down reports.

Of the North Dakota deaths, 29 officers died by gunfire. In Minnesota, 130 officers have been killed by gunfire.

As of Friday morning, the 33-year-old Moszer was the 10th law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty this year in the United States - eight of them slain by gunfire, according for Officer Down.

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Moszer is the second Fargo officer to die in the line of duty, though the first death was 134 years ago, in the earliest years of the city's history.

On July 5, 1882, Officer Fred Alderman, a 25-year-old who had been on the force for two months, was shot and killed as he tried to track a suspect who had used stolen property to pay a fine, according to a newspaper report at the time.

The suspect, Selig Knuteson, according to the report, had been arrested for public drunkenness the previous night and was required to pay $8.50 to get out of jail. Knuteson had asked Alderman if he could use his watch and other personal goods to settle the debt. Alderman agreed and paid the remainder of Knuteson's fine out of his own pocket.

It was later discovered that Knuteson had used stolen property to pay the fine. Alderman canvassed the city with his partner and learned Knuteson lived on the outskirts of town, and they went there at nightfall.

In the darkness, Alderman mistook a neighboring home for the suspect's residence. Alderman knocked on the door of the home and asked to be admitted. When he received no response, he tried to force the door open.

As he did so, the occupant of the home, Mrs. Bunkle, opened fire on him, striking him in the chest and killing him on the spot. The woman told police that she had mistaken Alderman for a tramp who was attempting to break into her house. She was initially jailed and charged with Alderman's murder, but a jury ruled the incident justifiable homicide because Alderman did not identify himself to the woman, according to Officer Down's synopsis of the killing.


Other recent officer deaths

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Moszer's death follows several line-of-duty deaths in the region in recent years:

-- Mahnomen County (Minn.) Sheriff's Deputy Chris Dewey was shot during a confrontation on Feb. 18, 2009. He underwent a series of operations and eventually succumbed to his injuries 18 months later.

Dewey, 26, was responding to reports of a drunken driver and shots fired in the city of Mahnomen. He was shot in the head and abdomen by one of the two men he confronted. When backup units arrived, they found Dewey and took him to the hospital.

The shooting suspect, Thomas Fairbanks, surrendered after a standoff with police and was eventually sentenced to life in prison without parole. His accomplice, Daniel Vernier was given a two-year prison sentence for failing to render aid.

-- Aitkin County (Minn.) Sheriff's Office Investigator Steve Sandberg was shot and killed Oct. 18, 2015, while guarding a prisoner at St. Cloud Hospital. He was 60.

The prisoner was in custody in connection with a domestic assault in Aitkin County. The man attacked and disarmed Investigator Sandberg in the hospital room, then fatally shot Sandberg with his own service weapon. Another deputy was able to subdue the prisoner with a Taser. The man died a short time later from an unknown cause.

-- In the Twin Cities, Mendota Heights Police Department Officer Scott Patrick died May 30, 2014, when he was shot several times by a man during a traffic stop in West St. Paul.

Patrick, 47, was standing next to his patrol car's door when the man fired multiple shots, striking him in the head. Patrick died at a St. Paul hospital.

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The subject, identified as Brian George Fitch Sr, opened fire on officers who located him in St. Paul seven hours later. He was shot and wounded by the officers before being taken into custody. In February 2015, he was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.

-- Bismarck Police Sgt. Rickie Kenner was shot and killed July 8, 2011, after responding to a domestic disturbance report of a man threatening a woman with a knife.

Kenner, 56, was shot as he and another officer approached a man sitting in a van and asked him to show his hands. The man instead opened fire with a gun, wounding Kenner. The other officer shot and killed the suspect.

Kenner later died at a local hospital. The shooter was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

History among local agencies

According to Officer Down, the West Fargo Police Department and the Cass County Sheriff's Office haven't suffered a line-of-duty death. However, most Fargo-Moorhead area law enforcement agencies have:

--Three Moorhead police officers, Roy Larson, Alexander McLean and Peter Poull, have died in the line of duty.

Larson, 27, was shot and killed while chasing a robbery suspect on Dec. 6, 1930.

The suspect had been involved in shootouts with two other officers during the chase, Officer Down reports. Larson encountered the man in some coal sheds on First Avenue North and was shot twice in the head before he could draw his gun. The murder suspect then tried to kill himself, but the wound was not fatal and he was later convicted in the killing and sentenced to life in prison.

McLean, 41, died Feb. 17, 1899, when a chimney collapsed on top of him. He had been on patrol and came across a burning building and died trying to keep other people away.

Poull, Jr., 28, was shot and killed Oct. 17, 1888, while trying to arrest a murder suspect wanted in North Dakota. The man who shot Poull was then wounded in an exchange of gunfire with other officers and taken into custody. He was convicted in Poull's death and executed Sept. 20, 1889.

-- Dilworth Police Officer George Washington Bridwell, 54, died Jan. 9, 1942, of head injuries suffered after he fell from the running board of a car the day before.

Bridwell was trying to stop a drunken driver and was riding on the running board of a witness's car. When the drunken driver stopped, the car Bridwell was riding on slowed and he tried to step off. However, he fell and struck his head on the pavement.

-- Clay County Sheriff's Deputy Scott Rogers, 46, suffered a fatal heart attack July 8, 2006, while taking part in the department's physical fitness program.

Related Topics: FARGO POLICE DEPARTMENT
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