Video released Thursday by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension shows the moments when La Crescent Police Officer Ryan Quanrud walked up to a vehicle during a traffic stop and the gunshot that was fired at him by the driver of the vehicle.
The incident happened July 31 just south of La Crescent. Officer Quanrud and another officer, saw two men acting suspiciously at a Kwik Trip. The men left and headed out of La Crescent. The officers followed and pulled the vehicle over near the intersection of Highways 16 and 26.
"Given the dynamic situation, first of all the ability to recognize something was wrong with the entire situation is admirable," La Crescent Police Chief Doug Stavenau, said. "It prompted a traffic stop and from there it was kind of an ambush situation because the officers did not anticipate a firearm being discharged at them."
When Officer Quanrud approached the vehicle, the driver, Wyatt Helfrich, fired one shot from a shotgun towards the officer, who then returned fire.
Officer Christopher Frick, who showed up on scene just before the gunfire began, got back into his squad car and pursued the suspects, reaching speeds of nearly 100 miles an hour.
"When the suspects began shooting back at our officers during the pursuit, we let off a little and created a distance,' Stavenau said. "We were calling in multiple other agencies to help assist with the pursuit too."
Helfrich and a passenger, William Wallraff, then fled the scene and led officers on a chase that ended when their vehicle's tires were punctured and went off the road.
When the car came to a stop, the two men ran into a nearby cornfield with their weapons, but were soon located by police and taken into custody.
"We just want the public to realize how incredibly close we came to losing at least one of our police officers that night," Houston County Sheriff Mark Inglett, said. "We live in a low crime area, but that doesn't mean these things can't happen and it is exactly why we train as hard as we do for these kinds of situations."
Both men are now in jail on attempted 1st Degree Murder and assault charges. The two officers were cleared in an independent investigation of any wrongdoing and are back at work.
During their administrative leave absence, Stavenau admits the department was strapped for resources.
"We only have a handful of full time officers so with them gone we were missing 20 percent of our department. So I really applaud the other guys on the department for being flexible and covering shifts."