Gordon man dies after officer-involved shootingFriends and neighbors say Andy Closson was on his cell phone early New Year’s morning, talking to someone, and repeating over and over that he just wanted to die.
By: By John Myers and Maria Lockwoodemail@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Superior Telegram
Friends and neighbors say Andy Closson was on his cell phone early New Year’s morning, talking to someone, and repeating over and over that he just wanted to die.
Just after 2 a.m., along the U.S. Highway 53 bridge over the St. Croix River, Douglas County Patrol Lt. Chris Hoyt shot Closson when the 21-year-old apparently raised a deer hunting rifle and pointed it at the deputy.
Andrew Lee Closson was pronounced dead later Tuesday morning at a Duluth hospital.
Hoyt, a 21-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure when an officer is involved in a shooting.
“He’s actually doing well,” Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec said. “He and his family are taking a little time off and just trying to deal with it and try to get over it as best they can.”
The incident remains under investigation by the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Superior Police Department. DCI Agent Jay Smith said the investigation will take some time; results will be turned over to Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank for prosecutorial review.
Friends and neighbors said Closson, whom they described as an otherwise “good kid,” appeared distraught in recent months over losing a girlfriend and was drinking on New Year’s Eve when he snapped.
“He kept saying ‘I want to die, I want to die’,” said Randy Aull, who was involved as the incident unfolded just before 2 a.m.
According to Aull, Closson had spent New Year’s Eve with friends and family at the home of his father, Rick Closson, at the intersection of Terry Drive and Antoine Circle in the “downtown” area of the town of Gordon, about 40 miles south of Superior.
At some point, Andy Closson demanded that he be allowed to take a car and drive to his ex-girlfriend’s house. When his family refused to give him the keys “he just flipped,” Aull said.
According to Aull and others, Andy Closson then retrieved a .30-30 caliber deer hunting rifle and fired a couple of shots inside his father’s home and a few more in the garage. A family member then ran to Aull’s house across the street to call 911. Aull went to the Closson house hoping to retrieve Rick Closson’s two younger children, ages 9 and 6. He ran into Andy Closson and wrestled with him for the gun. Unable to get the firearm, Aull entered the residence and left with the two children.
Three deputies arrived at the residence and the sheriff department’s SWAT team was activated, Dalbec said. As the deputies attempted to set up a perimeter around the residence, Closson broke out a window at the rear of the house and left the area on foot.
Hoyt, who lives in Gordon, is the commander of the sheriff department’s SWAT team; he was at the Gordon Fire Hall getting a generator when he was informed there was someone walking along U.S. Highway 53.
“He just went to check to see who it was,” Dalbec said. “I mean it was cold, too. If there was a hitchhiker … it was 12 below that morning. Kind of a cold night to be walking anywhere, let alone along a highway.”
Hoyt located Closson walking along the highway about a mile away from the residence where shots had been fired. According to a sheriff’s department release, Closson pointed a rifle at Hoyt and the lieutenant fired.
“It’s obviously a tragic event, not just for Mr. Closson’s family but for Lt. Hoyt and his family, and the department in general,” Dalbec said Wednesday.
The sheriff has known Hoyt for years.
“He and I got sworn in together on the police department January of 1991,” Dalbec said.
Closson was an outdoorsman who cared about his family and friends, according to his obituary. The 2011 Superior High School graduate was a loyal friend who loved to laugh and have fun. He leaves behind his parents, siblings, two grandfathers and a niece.
“I want people to know he wasn’t a bad kid. This wasn’t him. He was nice to our kids here. They hung out with him. I hunted with his dad,” Aull said. “Something just went off in him. He was drinking and I don’t know what else was wrong.”