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Sheriff Talks About Custer Shooting

September 6, 2011, 10:04 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Sheriff Talks About Custer Shooting
CUSTER, SD - A man is dead after a two-hour stand-off with police. Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler says the 22-year-old man had just returned to town this spring after a tour in the Marines, and in a small town like Custer, tragedy is the only word that comes close to describing what happened Tuesday.

 "There were numerous shots fired at the town. He fired at the deputies at a different location," Wheeler said. "We tried to talk to him to put his fire arm down. We tried to get him to turn himself in. We tried everything we could think of."

That went on for nearly two hours the an armed man fired his handgun through town. Wheeler said the 22 year-old former Marine rammed his pick-up truck into the Sheriff's Office. He ransacked the building before turning his attention to Custer's main street, Mount Rushmore Road.

Wheeler called in the Highway Patrol for help. A trooper fired the shot that ended the standoff.

"It's tough to deal with. It's tough for the guys in the department, although it was a Highway Patrolman that was the shooter; he's still good friends with us. And we have to support him too," Wheeler said. 

And in this small town of 2,000 people, everyone supports each other. Even Sheriff Wheeler who is still stunned by the events and can't help but think of his neighbors.

"Our hearts go out to his family too. We're very close friends and I can only imagine, I can't imagine what they're going through," he said. 

The sheriff's office is not releasing the suspect's name, pending an investigation by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation.

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