Officers involved in shooting that killed man on raft near Mankato identified

The officers involved in a shooting Saturday north of Mankato that left a man dead have been identified.

Wednesday, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) identified the law enforcement personnel involved as:

  • Nicollet County Sheriff's Deputy Paul Biederman, a 15-year veteran,
  • Blue Earth County Lt. Jeremy Brennan, a 19-year veteran,
  • North Mankato Police officer Chris Hendrickson, a 20-year veteran, and
  • Blue Earth County Sheriff's Deputy James Othoudt, a 13-year veteran.

The victim of the shooting was identified previously as 24-year-old Austin Dean Heights.

Robbery suspect killed on raft in officer-involved shooting near Mankato

According to the BCA, law enforcement was called to a BP gas station on U.S. Highway 169, just north of the Highway 14 interchange, on a reported armed robbery shortly after noon Saturday.

The suspect, identified as Heights, ran east across Highway 169 toward the Kiwanis Recreation Area, boarded a rubber raft and began floating north toward St. Peter, the BCA said.

The agency said law enforcement pursued Heights on foot along the shoreline and in several boats, but Heights and the officers exchanged gunfire at several points during the pursuit. Just before 2:30 p.m., Heights was struck by gunfire as he attempted to exit the raft on the east side of the river about three miles north of the Highway 14 bridge.

Authorities identify man killed in officer-involved shooting near Mankato

Heights then fell into the water. Officers located his body a short time later, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Two guns were recovered at the scene, the BCA said. However, no officers had body cameras at the time and no squad cameras caught any of the incident.

The BCA's investigation is ongoing. When completed, its findings will be provided to the Le Sueur County Attorney's Office for review.