Apple Valley man charged with fatally shooting friend

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 26, 2011 - 9:05 PM

Authorities say Benjamin A. Hanson was killed by a shot to the head as three friends played around with guns.

Three friends were playing around with guns in a Burnsville home when one of them fatally shot one of the others in the head, according to charges filed Tuesday.

Charged in the Saturday night killing of 22-year-old Benjamin A. Hanson, of Welch, Minn., was Derrick W. Dahl, 22, of Apple Valley.

Dahl remains jailed on felony charges of second-degree manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm in a municipality, and two weapons-related misdemeanors.

"This was an avoidable tragedy," said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom. "Handguns are not toys and should always be treated as if they are loaded."

According to the complaint:

Police officers arrived at the home in the 500 block of East Crystal Lake Road after a 911 call from the home by resident Joseph Sullivan, 22. Dahl first told the officers that he was not in the same part of the house when Hanson was shot.

But later, Dahl said he and the other two were pointing empty guns at each other.

At one point, Dahl said, he picked up a handgun and aimed it at Hanson. He pulled the trigger and struck Hanson in the head. Dahl said he was unfamiliar with guns and didn't know it was loaded.

Police found numerous weapons in the home. They included two handguns left on counters, another handgun in a gun case and several long guns in an unlocked case.

The weapon that Dahl is suspected of firing, a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun, was found on a closet floor.

Police found Hanson on the floor in a kitchenette, and he was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center. He died the next day.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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