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Rural Duluth man dies from apparent suicide in Hibbing lockup

A rural Duluth man apparently committed suicide in the St. Louis County lockup facility in Hibbing on Sunday morning after being arrested during a traffic stop.

A rural Duluth man apparently committed suicide in the St. Louis County lockup facility in Hibbing on Sunday morning after being arrested during a traffic stop.

Shane Ervin Fischer, who would have turned 31 today, was arrested by the Minnesota State Patrol at 1:40 a.m. He was booked into the 72-hour holding facility in the Hibbing courthouse at 2:13 a.m. on charges of DWI, fleeing in a motor vehicle, and first- and fourth-degree assault for attempting to disarm a state patrol trooper.

"We're glad for the safety of the trooper," St. Louis County Undersheriff Dave Phillips said. "It sounds like it was a very challenging arrest; his firearm was almost taken away."

According to State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske, a trooper stopped the pickup truck Fischer was driving with a woman passenger on northbound U.S. Highway 169 about a mile south of Chisholm because of a defective taillight.

As he talked to Fischer through the open driver-side window the trooper detected signs of alcohol impairment. During the conversation, Fischer put the truck into gear and fled. The trooper ran back to his squad and pursued the vehicle toward Chisholm.

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After about one-half mile, Fischer took the Chisholm exit, lost control of the pickup, slid into the ditch and rolled. Fischer left the vehicle and did not obey the trooper's commands. A physical struggle ensued, and the trooper used his Taser to subdue Fischer and arrest him. The trooper suffered minor injuries during the struggle.

Fischer refused medical treatment. He was booked into the Hibbing lockup on the five felony charges -- attempted first- and fourth-degree assault of a police officer, attempt to disarm a police officer, fleeing in a motor vehicle and first-degree DWI test refusal -- as well as driving after cancellation and for outstanding arrest warrants.

Fischer's female passenger was not arrested.

Authorities said he apparently committed suicide, using a bed sheet, shortly after lockup staff performed a routine welfare check. He was found unresponsive about 15 minutes later as staff members began delivering breakfast. Hibbing Fire and Ambulance was called shortly after 7 a.m. Efforts to revive Fischer failed, and he died of apparent asphyxiation.

"It's an unfortunate thing; our thoughts are with his family," Phillips said.

Phillips said this was the first suicide at the lockup facility, which can hold up to nine people for as long as 72 hours and is licensed by the Minnesota Department of Corrections. The county has notified the DOC of the death, and the department will investigate to ensure that all procedures and regulations were followed.

"From what we are seeing, everything done by our staff was right on the money," Phillips said.

The incident still is under investigation, with the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, Medical Examiner's Office and the Hibbing Police Department assisting.

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Steve Kuchera is a retired Duluth News Tribune photographer.
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