Roseville officers fatally shoot man who stabbed police dog

Scene of a shooting in Roseville
A Roseville squad car waits in front of an apartment building at 1610 County Rd. B., just west of Snelling Avenue, early Thursday morning. Roseville officers shot and killed a man inside the building the night before.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

Updated: 4:44 p.m. | Posted: 9:20 a.m.

John Birkeland, 52, was shot and killed by Roseville police officers on Wednesday night after he stabbed a police dog in the head with a knife.

Officers were called to an apartment building on the 1600 block of County Road B in Roseville at about 10 p.m. Wednesday because neighbors heard pounding, profanity and breaking glass coming from the man's unit, according to a statement from department spokesperson Lt. Lorne Rosand.

Police say residents told officers that Birkeland had a history of "mental outbursts."

His sister, Diane Malkovich of Phillips, Wis., said she wasn't sure if mental health had anything to do with the incident.

"He had lost his job recently and I know he had been a little depressed over it," said Malkovich, who confirmed her brother's identity. "John was a much loved family member."

Officers asked the man in the apartment if he was alright. He replied that he was fine, but refused to open the door.

Based on the night's incidents, comments the man had made about being robbed and an active warrant in the name of the apartment's resident for previously providing a false name to police, officers decided to force their way into the apartment, Rosand said.

"Entry was made and the apartment was searched. As the officers were searching the unit's bedroom, the canine alerted to the room's closet," Rosand said in the statement. "When officers ordered the person in the closet to surrender, he opened the closet door and stabbed the canine in the head."

That came as a surprise to Malkovich.

"I find that very odd," she said, "(he) loved dogs."

Police officials say two officers fired at the man because they feared for their lives. He was pronounced dead at the scene. He's expected to be identified in the coming days by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office.

The department identified the officers who fired their weapons as 18-year veteran John Jorgensen and Kyle Eckert, who has been with the department for four years.

Jorgensen, Eckert and three other officers who witnessed the shooting are on standard three-day administrative leave. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is the lead agency in the investigation.

The police dog, Otis, was treated at a veterinary hospital and is recovering at home with his handler.

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