Couple shot by police along Eden Prairie highway had a knife, authorities say

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 13, 2014 - 1:26 PM

The BCA said four officers fatally shot a man and woman on Hwy. 212 after they got out of a stolen car and refused to put the knife down.


The scene of a high speed car chase that ended in shots fired in Chanhassen on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2014.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The man and woman killed by law enforcement officers on Hwy. 212 last week were shot after they refused to put down a knife, authorities said Wednesday.

Matthew V. Serbus, 36, and Dawn M. Pfister, 34, were shot several times by four officers after the car they fled police in crashed in Eden Prairie and they emerged with a knife.

The new details were released by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting.

The four officers — Chaska police Sgt. Brady Juell, Chaska police officer Trent Wurtz, State Patrol Trooper Mark Lund and Carver County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Nathan Mueller — remain on administrative leave.

The incident unfolded early Friday when authorities got a report that a red Saab reported stolen from Colorado was speeding east on Hwy. 212 in Carver County and had rear-ended a car. Police caught up with the car and chased it at speeds of 80 to 90 miles per hour from Chaska to Eden Prairie.

After officers placed stop sticks on the highway, puncturing at least two of the Saab’s tires, it crashed between Hwy. 101 and Dell Road.

Pfister and Serbus then emerged from the car and Serbus “produced” a knife and was shot when he didn’t obey orders to drop it, according to the BCA, which declined to elaborate on what Serbus did with the knife. Pfister then took “possession of the knife” and also was shot, the BCA said.

‘Beyond shocking’

Those who knew the couple said they’re still left with many questions.

“Family and friends need closure,” said Pauly Hoffman of Brooklyn Park, a longtime friend of Serbus’ who argued that police should have used a Taser or other methods to stop Serbus. “I know Matt has made bad decisions. But the way it ended is beyond shocking.”

Hoffman said the couple were returning to Minnesota after visiting friends in Colorado and may have had a camping knife with them.

He said they were returning to face pending criminal charges with hopes they could then move on and start a new life together.

“They were two people in love looking to start their lives over,” he said. “They weren’t violent people. Something went horribly wrong.”

Hoffman said Serbus didn’t own a car or have a driver’s license and the couple had stolen gas to make the drive from Colorado to Minnesota. They were staying with friends in the metro area, he said. “It doesn’t seem right — two people killed over one knife,” he said. “It does open up more questions.”

He said friends of the two planned a candlelight vigil for them at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Maple Grove Arboretum.

Investigation continues

BCA investigators are still conducting tests and analyzing evidence and will then present their findings to the Hennepin County attorney. However, conclusive details about officer-involved shootings often take months to be disclosed.

The Minnetonka officer-involved fatal shooting last October of 27-year-old Michael Tray is still under review by the Hennepin County attorney’s office, as is the Orono officer-involved shooting of Ted Hoffstrom, 30, who confronted police in November after he shot and killed an Orono doctor. And last year, it took police more than four months to reveal details about a Minneapolis officer-involved shooting after a Hennepin County grand jury decided not to pursue charges against officers.

  • related content

  • Feb. 8: Two dead after police chase in Eden Prairie ends with shots fired

    Saturday February 8, 2014

    The series of dramatic events that led to gunshots started during the morning rush hour and led to the shutdown of Hwy. 212 until 5 p.m. Friday.

  • Dawn Pfister

  • Matthew Serbus

  • A fleeing couple shot to death by law enforcement officers last week after a chase had a knife and refused to put it down when they got out of the car, BCA investigators reported on Wednesday.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters