SEBEKA, Minn. -- Brothers Shannon and David Savela of Sebeka were the two men killed in a shootout Saturday, Feb. 27, involving a Wadena County Sheriff's deputy and a Sebeka police officer.
All four were struck when gunfire erupted before 9 p.m. that night on a curve of a tree-lined gravel road west of Nimrod in Wadena County. Deputy Troy Mayer was seriously injured but released to recover at home on Sunday, while Sebeka police officer Jason Worm was struck in his bullet-proof vest and not injured.
According to court records, David Savela was due for a jury trial in Wadena County District Court for charges of fleeing a police office on March 30. In that case, which stems from a July 14, 2019 incident, David Savela allegedly resisted arrest and attempted to punch a Sebeka police officer. In his plea of not guilty, David noted that he was punched in the face by the officer and planned to press charges.
Mayer has been with the Wadena County Sheriff’s Office for 11 years, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Mayer discharged his Taser during the struggle. Officer Worm has been with the Sebeka Police Department for 10 years. Officer Worm discharged his firearm during the incident, according to the BCA. Worm was struck by gunfire in his bullet resistant vest but was not injured.
The BCA is investigating the case at the request of the Wadena County Sheriff’s Office and the Sebeka Police Department. They released names of those involved on Tuesday afternoon.
Wadena County Sheriff Mike Carr said Mayer was doing well on Monday night. Police scanner audio at one point indicated the officer was shot in his buttocks.
Wadena County has about 12 full-time and five part-time deputies, according to Carr. While he could not speak to the investigation yet, he said he recalled about three officer-involved shootings that have taken place during his 14 years as sheriff. None involved an officer being shot.
The Star Tribune tracks the number of officer involved fatal shootings and reported there have been four officer-involved fatal shootings so far in 2021.
According to the BCA’s preliminary investigation, Deputy Mayer attempted to pull over David Savela’s vehicle for speeding at 8:48 p.m. Saturday near the intersection of 205th Ave. and 280th Ave. in North Germany Township, just west of Nimrod, Minn. Savela did not stop and a brief pursuit ensued which ended when Savela attempted to spin his vehicle around and it became stuck in the snow facing Deputy Mayer’s squad near 205th and 270th avenues.
David Savela would not identify himself and refused commands to exit his vehicle. In the meantime, Shannon Savela arrived at the scene and approached the ongoing encounter.
Deputy Mayer deployed his Taser toward David Savela but it was ineffective. He then pulled David Savela from his vehicle and a struggle ensued on the ground next to the driver’s side of Savela’s car.
Officer Worm arrived, instructed Shannon Savela to leave and joined Deputy Mayer in attempting to take David Savela into custody.
Shannon Savela moved to the passenger side of Deputy Mayer’s squad and began shooting, striking both Deputy Mayer and Officer Worm.
Mayer and Worm retreated to the passenger side of David Savela’s car, at which point David Savela stood up and pointed his gun at the officers. Officer Worm fired his handgun, striking David Savela.
Officer Worm then moved toward Deputy Mayer’s squad. Shannon Savela pointed his gun at Officer Worm and the officer fired, striking Shannon Savela.
David Savela died at the scene. Shannon Savela was transported by ambulance to Tri-County Health Care in Wadena where he later died.
Deputy Mayer was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph Health in Park Rapids and then transferred to North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale. He was released from the hospital on Sunday afternoon.
A civilian passenger who was riding with the deputy never exited the squad during the incident and was uninjured.
Portions of the incident were captured on dash cameras and a deputy-worn body camera. BCA crime scene personnel recovered guns from near both David and Shannon Savela’s bodies.
The BCA investigation of this incident is ongoing. When the investigation is complete, the BCA will present its findings without recommendation to the Wadena County Attorney’s Office for review, according to a BCA news release.