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IDs released in fatal northeast Minnesota police shooting

The scene of a shooting on the 200 block of South Third Avenue West in Virginia Tuesday evening. Clint Austin / Forum News Service

VIRGINIA, Minn. — Authorities have released the identities of the officer and man involved in a fatal shooting Tuesday night, Oct. 27, in Virginia.

The officer was identified as Nick Grivna, who has been with the Virginia Police Department for nearly five years. The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office identified the dead man as J Scot Alan Widmark, 41, of Virginia. Widmark died of a gunshot wound.

According to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday, officers responded to a 911 call from a woman who reported that a man, now identified as Widmark, approached her vehicle stopped on the 300 block of Second Street South in Virginia and demanded that she get out. Widmark entered the vehicle but then got out and grabbed a man standing on the sidewalk, according to a news release.

According to the BCA, officers from Virginia Police Department and the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office arrived on the scene and encountered Widmark still holding the man. Grivna discharged his weapon, striking Widmark, who was taken by ambulance to Essentia Health-Virginia where he was pronounced dead, the news release said. No one else was injured.

BCA crime scene personnel recovered a knife at the scene, the news release said.

Virginia Mayor Larry Cuffe, a retired sheriff’s deputy, acknowledged some frustration earlier on Wednesday in not having more immediate information about the incident that precipitated the shooting.

“All we really know is that the officer was in a situation where he felt he needed to protect his own life by taking another,” Cuffe said.

The BCA said Tuesday night it was working to determine if any squad-car cameras captured the incident. No body cameras were present.

Cuffe said the city in August purchased 11 body cameras. Unfortunately, he said, they’ve encountered difficulty getting the technology implemented.

Cuffe said the state requires that the city have an information technology professional with specific certifications in order to ensure the software and record-management systems meet standards for the retention of data. A local professional has been hired, but doesn’t officially start until Dec. 1.

Grivna has been put on administrative leave pending the investigation by the BCA, which is still active and ongoing.

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