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Hudson shooter remains hospitalized, still critical

As of Tuesday afternoon, Daniel Craig Christenson, 43, 1321 St. Croix Heights, remains in critical condition in an induced coma at Regions Hospital in St. Paul after being shot by police outside his house at the end of a seven-hour standoff on Oct. 18.

Nate Livermore, 15, of Hudson who was one of four teenagers who escaped the house after Christenson began shooting inside around 5 p.m. on Oct. 17, is recovering from surgery after being bitten by a police dog as he ran from the house.

Livermore and Christenson's son Zachary, 19, broke a basement window and helped a 13-year-old girl and another 15-year-old boy escape through the window before running to safety themselves.

As Livermore ran from the house, he was set upon by the St. Croix County Sheriff's Department police dog that latched onto his arm. The boy was treated for the dog bite at Hudson Hospital on the night of the incident but by Monday had developed a serious infection and was rushed to Regions Hospital for treatment. He underwent surgery on Oct 20 to replace a damaged artery in his left arm. He came home from the hospital on Friday.

Accounts of why the dog attacked Livermore differ. Police say that they could not determine who was who when the teens came out from the basement window. It was about 30 minutes after police arrived on the scene and they said they did not know if the teens were armed or involved in the shooting inside the house.

Hudson police say they yelled at Livermore and Zachary to stop as they left the house but they kept running and that is when the dog was released.

Livermore's account of things is different. He says he did exactly as police said when he left through the window. In an interview with the Star-Observer last Monday Livermore stated adamantly that when police told him to run, he did, and when they told him to get on the ground, he complied immediately. He says he was on the ground when the dog attacked him.

He went on to say that when the dog bit him, he jumped up and struck the dog in an effort to get him to let go. He said a police officer told him not to strike the dog and another officer yanked the dog off Livermore's arm.

The father of the other 15-year-old boy in the house said police placed his son in handcuffs almost immediately after he left the house and then told him to run to a secure area. He said his son was left in cuffs for an hour before police removed them.

Police say that due to the chaotic nature of the scene at the house, they took necessary precautions to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Police talk to neighbors

Members of the Hudson Police Department took questions from the St. Croix Heights neighborhood at a meeting called specifically for them at City Hall on Monday night.

According to resident Tony Bredahl all but one of the neighborhood's 11 families was represented at the meeting along with some residents who live adjacent to the area.

The group asked questions about how the police handled the evacuation as well as to how and why the decision was made to flush Christenson out of his house using pepper spray around 1 a.m. and why police did not take any steps to get the teens inside out to safety.

According to Bredahl, the Hudson officers said that the decision to flush Christenson out of his house had been turned over to the St. Croix County Emergency Response Unit and it was their call to use the pepper spray. Despite repeated attempts to contact him, police could not make contact with Christenson. Police said that the factors weighing into the decision to make a move on Christenson included the weather, officer fatigue due to the length of time of the standoff and losing the cover of darkness, despite the hour.

Bredahl said it was clear from the comments at the meeting that there were communications problems that night with all parties involved in the incident -- police, the teen victims inside the house, and the neighbors.

"We just wanted to know what, if any, protocol or procedures they (the police) have in place to handle a situation like this. It just seems like there were communication problems between everybody that night," said Bredahl.

Police Chief Marty Jensen said the department would conduct an evaluation of the incident with all the officers involved this week. The chief added that the department has been involved in several other investigations requiring a great deal of manpower since the shooting occurred.

Bredahl said that neighborhood residents also voiced their concern over Zachary's welfare and wanted to know if anything was being done to help him cope with the situation. "He is a victim in all this and he's in a very tough spot. Everybody is worried about him."

Bredahl said it was common knowledge that Daniel Christenson has a drinking problem but that for the most part "he is nice guy." Bredahl said police had been called to the house before but never for anything even close to what happened that Saturday night.

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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