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NEW: Suspects jailed after shooting at police officers in Houston County

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BCA investigators near the interstection of Highway 16 and 26 where they are gathering evidence in the officer involved shooting earlier Monday. BCA investigators near the interstection of Highway 16 and 26 where they are gathering evidence in the officer involved shooting earlier Monday.
Suspect vehicle towed from the scene of the crash following the high speed chase. Suspect vehicle towed from the scene of the crash following the high speed chase.
Rear view of suspect vehicle as it leaves the scene of crash following high speed chase. Rear view of suspect vehicle as it leaves the scene of crash following high speed chase.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has released details of the officer involved shooting Monday morning in Houston County.

The incident began around 1:30 a.m. at the Kwik Trip  at 319 S. 3rd Street in La Crescent. Two La Crescent Police officers saw two men behaving suspiciously at the store. 

When the two men left the station, the officers followed, then pulled over the vehicle at the intersection of Highways 16 and 26 near Hokah. 

When stopped, shots were fired by the men at the officers, who returned fire. 

The two suspects then drove off which was the start of a high speed chase. Speeds of more than 100 miles an hour were reported by officers during the chase through Hokah on Highway 44.

The chased ended when the suspect's vehicle crashed into a field near Highway 44 and Carpenter Road in Caledonia. Both men ran into the field. After more officers arrived on the scene, the men surrendered.

The BCA has not released the names of the two men arrested, but WXOW has learned that the name of the suspects are Wyatt R. Helfrich,19,  of La Crosse and 19-year-old William Gerald Wallraff.

One of the suspects, Helfrich, was injured in the neck during the incident. He was taken to Gundersen Health System in La Crosse where he was treated and released. He was then taken to the La Crosse County Jail to await extradition back to Minnesota on a charge of probable cause attempted murder.

The other suspect, Wallraff, was booked into the Houston County Jail also on a probable cause attempted murder charges. 

Neither officer involved in the shooting was injured. 

Both are on administrative leave as the investigation continues. 

The BCA said the La Crescent Police Department does not use body cameras. Squad car cameras captured video of the shooting.

A  portion of Highway 44 between Hokah and Caledonia was closed for nearly twelve hours as investigators gathered evidence. A vehicle, missing its back window, was towed from the scene. 

The intersection of Highways 16 and 26 was closed Monday afternoon as BCA investigators also collected evidence from the traffic stop and shooting. A number of evidence tags were visible on the ground along the shoulder of the highway. 

This story has been updated to correctly identify the second suspect involved in the case. An earlier version identified a person jailed in Winona County on similar, but unrelated charges. 


The Houston County Sheriff said an officer involved shooting happened in the early morning hours of July 31.

Two suspects are in custody, there is no longer a threat to public safety, and no officers were injured. The portion of the investigation has been turned over to the BCA. There is more than one scene, so Highway 44 is closed at Hokah and County Road 20.

News 19's Caroline Hecker is working on getting more details on this developing story.

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Highway 44 between Caledonia and Hokah is closed this morning for an accident investigation according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Stay tuned to News 19 for updates. We are waiting to hear back from Minnesota State Patrol and Houston County officials to confirm calls we've received about an officer involved shooting in that area.

MNDOT is recommending commuters from Hokah to take Hwy 16 West to Houston then Hwy 76 South to Caledonia. For those coming from Caledonia, MNDOT says to take Houston County Road 20 to Hwy 76 North and then 16 East.

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