Crime, Law and Justice

BCA: Crookston officer who fatally shot man last week also fatally shot another man in May

Authorities say the Crookston police officer who fatally shot a man at a homeless shelter last week is the same officer who fatally shot another man in the northwest Minnesota city in May.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Tuesday said officer Nick Fladland shot 44-year-old Christopher Ryan Junkin multiple times while responding to reports of a fight at the Care and Share shelter late on the night of June 30.

The BCA said Fladland also was the officer who fatally shot 35-year-old Andrew Scott Dale in Crookston on May 16, after Dale reportedly ran toward officers with a hatchet.

Fladland, who the BCA said has five years of law enforcement experience, was placed on “critical incident leave” after the May shooting, but returned to duty at some point prior to the latest shooting.

In the wake of the June 30 shooting, Fladland was again placed on critical incident leave.

In the latest incident, the BCA said Crookston police sent at least three officers to the Care and Share shelter that night. They reportedly found Junkin “actively breaking items inside the shelter including furniture. Junkin ignored their verbal commands to stop.”

Fladland, fellow Crookston officer Corey Rich and Polk County sheriff’s deputy April Hansen deployed Tasers, and Hansen also used a chemical irritant to try to subdue Junkin.

The BCA said Junkin reportedly followed the officers as they backed down a hallway, and Fladland fired his handgun. Junkin died at the scene.

The officers were wearing body cameras that captured parts of the incident. The BCA continues to investigate. The agency’s report issued Tuesday does not mention Junkin being armed with a weapon.

Friends and relatives of Junkin disputed the BCA account of a fight and said Junkin was in a mental health crisis at the time.

Junkin’s roommate, Robert Fox, was at the shelter on the night of the shooting and later spoke with Fargo TV station Valley News Live.

“I tried to explain to the police when they got there — I was like, ‘Look, this is a mental health issue, it’s not a fight, I don’t want to press charges,’“ Fox told Valley News Live. “They’re like, ‘Well, what do you want us to do?’ and I was like, ‘Well just help him.’”

A family member raising money for Junkin’s cremation, and to bring his remains back to his home state of California, wrote that he had three children and “always tried to do right and be so supportive to anyone he met.”

In the wake of the shooting, the Care and Share shelter remains closed through July 18.