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Local divers find guns in the St. Croix

Members of the St. Croix EMS & Rescue Dive Team search the St. Croix River earlier this month for two handguns believed to have been used in a St. Paul murder. They found the guns near the dike road bridge.

Six members of the St. Croix County EMS Dive Team hit the jackpot earlier this month when they found two handguns on the bottom of the St. Croix River just below the dike road.

St. Paul police believe the weapons were used in a murder in St. Paul in January. The victim was shot 17 times during what they think was a drug deal gone bad.

Hudson Police Department Sgt. Glen Hartman is the dive team coordinator and was the diver who found the guns just under the dike road bridge. He was one of six divers in the 40 degree water searching for the weapons.

St. Paul Police tracked one of the suspects involved in the case via a GPS system in his car to Texas. Questioning led authorities to believe that the guns had been disposed of in the dike area of the river. They called on the EMS dive team to conduct the underwater search.

Hartman said the despite the cold, the winter conditions meant good visibility, around 6-8 feet, for the divers. He also noted that the sandy bottom and shallow depth at that part of the river made locating the guns easier. Hartman said it only took about 20 minutes to find the guns which were about five feet from each other in the "incredibly clear water."

St. Paul Police Sgt. Jim Gray who was on the scene the day of the dive said he was confident that the team would find the guns and that they could be connected to the case. "They have been turned over to the evidence lab for testing but we believe we have recovered the murder weapon."

Hartman said everyone involved in the dive was "really pumped" for find the weapons. The team has been involved in numerous dives in the St. Croix River on a variety of cases. Other areas, like under the interstate bridge, are much more challenging, however, due to depth and the conditions of the water and the bottom.

In addition to Hartman, the divers who participated in the search were Adam Wojciehowski, Jay Penfield, Chris Kustrich, Justin Tennyson, John Larsen and Jim Duffy. Assisting on shore were Jennelle Anacker, Debra Hartman, Jennifer Hintze, Jennifer Kerner, Jeff Dabruzzi and Hans Lamkin.

The St. Croix EMS Dive Team is one of the most experienced in the St. Croix Valley. In addition to working with law enforcement and on rescue efforts throughout the area, the team also assisted in rescue and recovery efforts on the Mississippi River following the I35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis in 2007.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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