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Polk County man killed in standoff died from police gunfire, investigators say

Authorities survey the area where the standoff occurred Northeast of East Grand Forks, Minn. on Monday, March 20, 2017. (Joshua Komer /Grand Forks Herald)

NORTHLAND TOWNSHIP, Minn. -- A 73-year-old Polk County man who died in a standoff with law enforcement after reportedly firing at a mail carrier and a sheriff’s deputy in March was killed by gunfire from officers, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Clarence Duane Huderle died from a gunshot wound during a standoff on March 20 at his home in rural Polk County. Initially, it was unclear whether he died from a self-inflicted wound or police gunfire.

“The medical examiner determined that Mr. Huderle was shot by another person -- he did not commit suicide,” BCA public information officer Jill Oliveira told the Herald via email Friday. “The BCA has referred the findings of its investigation to the Polk County Attorney’s Office for review.”

The Grand Forks County Coroner’s Office, which also does autopsies for Polk County, said they could not release details on Huderle’s autopsy.

A preliminary investigation found that an officer who is part of the Pine to Prairie Drug Task Force fired upon Huderle. The officer's name is not being released as state law protects the identity of undercover officers.

Oliveira said the details of the investigation will not be released until the Polk County Attorney’s Office completes its review.

Polk County Attorney Greg Widseth did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Herald Tuesday.

The Herald has submitted a freedom of information request in the case.

Neighbors and relatives of Huderle who spoke with the Herald said he had been suffering from dementia in recent years.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office was called to the residence on County Road 228, north of 150th Street Northwest, about 11:21 a.m. March 20 when a rural mail carrier reported the rear window on his vehicle was shattered by gunfire, according to a sheriff’s office press release.

When a Polk County deputy responded, he encountered Huderle with a rifle and called for backup. Huderle fired at the deputy and struck his vehicle, the sheriff’s office said.

Huderle was found dead outside his residence next to what authorities described as a high-powered rifle.

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