The Free Press, Mankato, MN


January 15, 2007

Shooting put newspaper in the sights


Our regular police reporter Dan Nienaber began calling neighbors to see if they could tell us anything that was happening. We only resort to this method of reporting if police are giving us absolutely nothing and there is, in our mind, a compelling need for the community to know if they are safe or not.

Had police told us just the basics, that two officers had been shot and they were attempting to talk to the suspect, we would have not pursued leads on our own and certainly would have known not to call the suspect. If we know police were negotiating in a stand off with a suspect, we would not call that suspect.

Nienaber called a neighbor near the scene who referred him to another neighbor. In the next call, unbeknownst to Nienaber, he had Skjervold on the line. Still not knowing who he was talking to, he asked Skjervold if he knew what was going on.

At that point, Skjervold revealed he had shot two police officers and they had shot him in the stomach. It was a brief conversation, and Skjervold hung up.

Nienaber then confirmed parts of the story with a Blue Earth County sheriff’s deputy on the scene. We had heard that one of the officers shot was Rob Sadusky. We called the hospital to confirm a condition. The hospital followed its usual practice of providing the condition of patients admitted.

We put a short version of the story on our Web site and published a longer version in the Christmas Eve edition.

Law enforcement was not, and in some cases still is not, happy with the way we handled the reporting. They have accused us of interfering with their attempt to get Skjervold to give up his weapons and come out.

Conversations on The Free Press community forum on our Web site keep alluding to the “real story” and allege there’s a lot more to the events reported so far. The Free Press will follow up completely on the event when the police have finished their investigation.

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