LITTLE FALLS - Residents of Little Falls were shocked to learn of a hostage situation Tuesday at the Morrison County Government Center that ended in the shooting of the suspect, 60-year-old Gordon Kenneth Wheeler Sr.
News quickly spread throughout the city of 8,400 people, in large part to radio reports of the hostage incident.
Beth Wiese was one of dozens of residents who stood across the street from the government center after learning about the situation.
Wiese and another woman, who asked not to be identified, said they came down to see if they could learn more about what was happening.
The sidewalk across the street from the Morrison County Government Center in Little Falls was lined Tuesday with bystanders watching the emergency response unfold after a shooting during a county board meeting.
Brainerd Dispatch/ Steve Kohls
» Purchase reprints of this photo.
"Nothing ever happens here, " Wiese said. "And when I came down here I never thought it would be to this extent. We're shocked."
Laura Hansen, owner of Bookin' It bookstore directly across the street from the Morrison County Government Center, heard about the shooting from the radio. "There were police going every which way. ... I didn't know what was going on," Hansen said.
Hansen commented about what occurred inside the government building, saying, "It would be just terrifying. I can't imagine it." In reference to her town, she said, "We're not used to excitement around here."
Dave Bjerga, assistant superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, spoke during a news conference Tuesday afternoon in Little Falls on the Morrison County shooting incident. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey» Purchase reprints of this photo.
As the owner of Marie's Shoe Service, also directly across the street from the government building, Marie Rakow only heard sirens. After she saw a man get out of an unmarked vehicle with a siren blaring and begin to put on gear, "I thought, something must be going on."
Karen Przyeilla was a block from the government center hours after the shooting and she also found out from the radio. In reference to Gordon Wheeler, she said, "... he must have flipped out."
"We've gotten about seven calls here of people asking what happened," said Tammy Keher of Heads-Up Hair & Nails. While the store is across the street from the building, the windowless wall between the shop and the government center prevented her from witnessing any details. "You don't think about things like this happening in your small town," she said. "It's sad more than anything."
A woman, identified by law enforcement on the scene as the wife of Gordon Wheeler Sr., was led by a chaplain to a waiting car Tuesday at the Morrison County Government Center in Little Falls. The suspect, Gordon Wheeler Sr., 60, died after being shot by law enforcement personnel Tuesday morning inside the government center. Wheeler had taken Morrison County officials hostage during a board meeting.
Brainerd Dispatch/ Steve Kohls» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Gary Johnson, owner of the Sport 'N' Print store, was working in the back of his shop when he heard the sirens at the nearby Morrison County Government Center Tuesday morning.
"It didn't surprise me, not when I heard who done it," Johnson said of Wheeler Sr.'s actions Tuesday morning. "It could have been a lot worse."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.