Superior shootout victim’s death similar to brother’sThe man who died in a gunfight with Superior police on Friday afternoon lost his brother under similar circumstances in Alaska six years ago.
By: John Lundy and Andrew Krueger, Duluth News Tribune
The man who died in a gunfight with Superior police on Friday afternoon lost his brother under similar circumstances in Alaska six years ago.
Superior police confirmed on Saturday that Luke Daniel Anderson, 34, of Duluth died after a shootout Friday in the field behind Downtown Mobile Home Park, 409 N. 12th St. No officers or bystanders were hurt in the confrontation, Police Chief Charles LaGesse said in a news conference.
Anderson was the brother of Jason Karlo Jacob Anderson, who died in a shootout with police and federal marshals on March 1, 2006, in the Homer, Alaska, airport parking lot. He had been hiding in Alaska for about a year after fleeing Minnesota, where he was wanted on federal drug-trafficking charges. Jason Anderson’s two children were with him in the car at the time. He shot his own 2-year-old son during the confrontation and died from a self-inflicted wound, according to forensic reports.
Dean Deschampe Jr. of Duluth, a friend of both men, confirmed Luke was Jason’s brother. He told the News Tribune that he had a foreboding about Luke’s death after his friend visited him at his apartment Thursday night.
“I could see it in his face,” Deschampe said. “I told my fiancee I had the feeling he’s going to kill himself.”
Deschampe said at one point Anderson opened a pill bottle, and it was filled with bullets.
Anderson called him twice on Friday, Deschampe said, once early in the morning and once in the afternoon. Deschampe missed both calls, and when he called back, Anderson didn’t answer.
He also said Anderson was deeply affected by his older brother’s death, but didn’t say much about it.
“Luke was one of those guys that didn’t like to talk a lot about his feelings,” Deschampe said.
LaGesse offered the following account of what led to the fatal shooting:
Police responded to a call at 4:44 p.m. about shots being fired at the Walgreens at 2015 Tower Avenue in Superior. When they arrived, they learned that shots
hadn’t been fired, but that a man carrying a handgun had approached a woman in the parking lot and demanded the keys to her car. She surrendered her keys, but he was unable to start her car. He ran back to the vehicle he had arrived in and fled the scene. Witnesses described the suspect and the car.
Soon after, officers spotted the vehicle at North 18th Street and Washington Avenue in the Billings Park area. When they attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver accelerated. After a pursuit of several minutes, the driver abandoned his vehicle and ran through a grassy field between North 12th Street and Winter Street east of Birch Avenue. Officers saw that he was carrying a large revolver. He ignored repeated orders to drop the weapon. As he approached the rear of the mobile home park, he turned toward the officers while raising his revolver.
Officers fired multiple rounds at the man. He fell to the ground but held on to the revolver. He placed the gun under his own chin and fired it. Officers called for an ambulance and approached the man, but he began to rise and again pointed the gun at officers. They fired more shots, and the man dropped to the ground.
Police officers, Superior firefighters and Gold Cross Ambulance personnel attended to the man, later identified as Anderson, but he died at the scene.
LaGesse identified the officers who fired on Anderson as Sgt. William Lear and Officer Todd Carlson. Both officers have been placed on administrative leave pending completion of the initial stages of the investigation, LaGesse said. Lear has been with the Superior police for six years and Carlson for 17.
“Our preliminary investigation into this matter shows that the officers did everything possible to resolve this incident without the use of deadly force,” LaGesse said. “The officers were faced with a deadly threat and responded in a manner consistent with their training.”
Asked the impact having two officers on leave would have on staffing, LaGesse said, “It’s a concern — it leaves us a little short-staffed and will result in some overtime, but it’s the right thing to do for the officers.”
An autopsy on Anderson is to be conducted today at the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Ramsey, Minn. It isn’t known if Anderson’s death was caused by the shot he fired or by shots from the officers, LaGesse said. The investigation is continuing and is being led by the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation, he said.
It also isn’t clear why Anderson wanted the woman’s vehicle, given that he already had a working vehicle, LaGesse said. He didn’t take anything from her other than her keys, and he left the keys in her car.
LaGesse said Anderson had no prior history with Superior police. According to Minnesota court records, Anderson was convicted three times on felony drug charges, most recently in 2005.
But Anderson was straightening out his life, said Deschampe. He didn’t have a job, but he was a full-time student in the second year of the auto technology program at Lake Superior College. He had recently purchased a car, and the last time Deschampe saw him he had several hundred dollars in student-loan money. Deschampe, 36, is planning to work in the oil fields in North Dakota this summer and had offered to help Anderson find a job there.
“At first, he was excited about that,” Deschampe said.
Anderson had three children, ages 9, 5 and a baby just a few months old, by three different mothers, Deschampe said. He was living with an elderly man on Stebner Road and was frustrated about not being able to see the children, he said.
Deschampe said that although he was worried about his friend, he was shocked when he learned what had happened in Superior. Anderson had never been a violent man, Deschampe said, and he couldn’t believe that he had held a gun to a woman’s face.
“That wasn’t him,” Deschampe said. “That wasn’t like him at all.”
Deschampe said he didn’t want people to judge Anderson just based on the way his life ended. Anderson was a good and generous man who would willingly share his possessions and money with friends, he said.
“He always showed respect to my family, to my fiancee, to my sister,” Deschampe said. “He was just respectful. I don’t even know other people like that in my life.”
But Anderson seemed to feel that he had no one to turn to, Deschampe said. “He didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. … When a man has nothing to lose, he’s very dangerous.”
Wayne Smith of Pigeon Forge, Tenn., said he was in a relationship with Luke and Jason’s mother for nearly 20 years, and Smith said the brothers called him their stepdad during that time. He last saw Luke about three years ago, and last spoke with Luke’s mother about a month ago, he said.
“Until he got mixed up with the wrong crowd, he was a good kid,” Smith said of Luke Anderson. “If he wasn’t drinking, he was as nice a guy as you’d want to be around.”
Smith said Luke Anderson was a good carpenter, and loved hunting and fishing. Smith said that with both brothers he had been told, and saw some signs, that they were prone to mood swings. But while Jason could be loud and outgoing, Luke was “real quiet,” he said.
“Their mood changes in a hurry, they both did. They couldn’t control some things. … (Luke) could be jolly, he could be mad in a hurry. But I don’t know how he got into this deal, or why.”
Jason Anderson was 31 and living under an alias with his girlfriend and their two children when he died in the Alaska incident in 2006. Working on a tip, investigators had lured him to the Homer airport on the pretext of exchanging his rental Jeep, which had a broken windshield. Plainclothes federal marshals and Homer police were waiting in the terminal and planned to stun him with a Taser when he went to the rental counter, according to media reports at the time.
But when Anderson arrived, he pulled up in the rental lot and called the agent on his cell phone, asking him to bring out the keys for the new car because he had his children with him. Officers then drove up on both sides of the Jeep. Police said Anderson pulled out a handgun, prompting the shootout.
The two children, a 2-year-old boy and 6-month-old girl, were in car seats in the back. According to forensic analysis, Jason fired a bullet that entered his son’s cheek and pierced his brain, severely injuring him. Jason also fatally shot himself in the head, although officers also shot him nine times. The girl was uninjured.
Cherry Dietzmann is the children’s mother and was living with Jason in Alaska; she now lives near Ely. She told the News Tribune she also knew Luke Anderson for the better part of a decade.
Luke Anderson was in prison when his brother died, she said, and after being released he made efforts to get to know his brother’s children.
“Luke was different after he got out of prison,” Dietzmann said, saying that certainly the incarceration played a role, but “his brother’s death had a lot to do with it. (And) he was real distraught over what happened to my son.
“He would drink, and get really drunk, and say things like, ‘maybe I should just go out like my brother,’ ” Dietzmann said.
Dietzmann said she last talked to Luke last summer. She said he “could be so sweet” and loved his children, but at some point she tried to distance herself from the situation.
“He would just snap at times, and I had a hard time dealing with it,” she said.
Dietzmann’s son, who has made some progress but remains unable to talk or walk as a result of the shooting, lives at a foster home in the Twin Ports area. Dietzmann said that she spoke to the child’s foster mother after Luke paid a visit to her son on Valentine’s Day.
“She said he was melancholy, and sad, and he said he could rest easy knowing my son was taken care of,” Dietzmann said.
She said it seemed, to her, that he was saying goodbye.
News Tribune night city editor Jaime DeLage contributed to this report.