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Norman County traffic stop turns violent; deputy shot, suspects in custody

PERLEY, Minn. – A traffic stop on a rural road turned violent Tuesday morning when a man pulled a handgun on a Norman County sheriff’s deputy and shot him in the back once before driving off and triggering a manhunt that involved dozens of officers, authorities said.

The deputy, whose name was not released, was wearing a bullet-resistant vest, and he received injuries that were not life-threatening, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He was taken by ambulance to Essentia Health in Fargo, where he was treated and released.

The traffic stop took place about 8:30 a.m. on Norman County Road 39, seven miles east of Perley, a town about 23 miles north of Moorhead. The deputy pulled over a black Dodge pickup, Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist said.

Riding in the pickup were two brothers, 19-year-old Steven Anthony Henderson and 18-year-old William Patrick Henderson, who had an outstanding warrant in Pennington County. As the deputy was taking William Henderson into custody, Steven Henderson shot the deputy, who returned fire but missed, the BCA said.

Steven Henderson fled in the pickup, prompting over 70 officers from more than a dozen agencies to search for him, the BCA said.

Bergquist said an officer driving past a vacant farmstead later that morning noticed a flash of light near a line of woods at the end of a driveway. As the officer approached, it became clear the light was reflecting off the window of a black pickup parked behind a pair of evergreen trees, the sheriff said.

The officer then stopped and waited for backup, which included a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter.

“With the help from the helicopter from the Border Patrol, they did find the suspect in the woods,” Bergquist said. “Obviously, we knew he had a gun, so our deputies had their guns out, but he came out and just gave up.”

Steven Henderson was found about 10:30 a.m. along 150th Avenue in Mary Township, roughly three miles north of where the shooting occurred. There was no word on whether authorities recovered a gun. Lockdowns at local schools and medical facilities were lifted once the arrest was made.

It’s not clear why the deputy pulled over the pickup, but Bergquist said the truck did not have license plates.

Norman County Sheriff Jeremy Thornton was in the Twin Cities at a conference when he learned of the shooting and rushed back to Norman County. He referred questions to the BCA, which is investigating the case.

The BCA said the deputy will be identified after he’s been interviewed. He was placed on administrative leave, a standard procedure in a case like this. His last day with the Norman County Sheriff’s Department was to be Thursday, and he planned to take a job with another agency, Bergquist said.

On Tuesday evening, Steven Henderson of Fertile was being held at the Northwest Regional Corrections Center in Crookston.

William Henderson, who has no known address, was also being held in Crookston, awaiting a transfer to the jail in Pennington County. His warrant there was for failing to appear for court on misdemeanor charges of theft, damage to property and using a driver’s license to give a false name to a police officer, Pennington County officials said.

Archie Ingersoll, INFORUM

Forum reporter Dave Olson contributed to this report

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