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Minn. Man, Police Dog Dead After 16-hour Standoff

Minn. Man, Police Dog Dead After 16-hour Standoff

Star Tribune via YellowBrix

January 04, 2010

A Ham Lake man was found shot to death in his house Thursday after a 16-hour standoff that culminated with a SWAT team storming the residence behind a patrol dog, which was killed during an ensuing exchange of gunfire.

Authorities say an autopsy will reveal whether the man, identified by friends and neighbors as 70-year-old Theodore Kowalzek, shot himself or was killed by a SWAT team officer who returned the gunfire that authorities say killed Rocky, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois that served as a patrol dog for five years.


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“I know the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office believes that Rocky is a hero and that he saved the lives of their deputies; he went in first,” said Andy Skoogman, spokesman for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is heading the investigation. “It’s cliche, but he paid the ultimate price. They’re very shaken up in Anoka County about this.”

Authorities would not release the name of the officer who fired at Kowalzek.

Those who knew Kowalzek, a father and grandfather who was a regular at a local bar, were left Thursday to try to comprehend the actions of a man known to shoot his guns almost every day and attract a lot of visits from police.

“The cops have always been over at Ted’s house; there’s always been problems there,” said neighbor Karla Jesinoski, who arrived home at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday to find the neighborhood blocked off. “I’ve been here for 31 years, and it’s been going on for 31 years. The cops know him upside down.”

According to records, Kowalzek had multiple convictions, including driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an injury accident and implied consent test refusal.

’I’m completely shocked’

But Todd Chester, owner of the Route 65 Bar and Grill in East Bethel, where Kowalzek stopped most days and was known as “Teddy,” said he wasn’t a violent man.

“He never brought harm to anybody,” said Chester.

“Everyone who knew him knew he was a good guy. … Something must have pushed his buttons, and I’m completely shocked that it ended this way.”

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