A hunter in northwestern Minnesota said he was trying to scare off a fawn when his gunshot fatally struck a longtime law enforcement officer who also was out hunting, according to charges.
Morris S. Dodd Jr., 54, of nearby rural Ogema, was charged in Becker County District Court with second-degree manslaughter and being a felon in possession of a firearm, in connection with the Nov. 10 death of Jay C. Nelson, 53, of Cormorant Township.
Dodd’s illegal weapons possession charge stems from sex-related crimes in 1993 and 2002.
Nelson was driving on a logging trail roughly 20 miles northeast of Detroit Lakes when he was shot about a half-mile west of Little Flat Lake in West Sugar Bush Township. Becker County Sheriff Todd Glander said Nelson had just finished hunting.
Dodd remained in jail Thursday, awaiting his first court appearance on Friday. Court records did not list an attorney for him.
According to the charges against Dodd:
Investigators developed information leading them to Dodd, who acknowledged hunting that morning. He said he had fired his .30-06 rifle in the area of the fawn in order to “spook it,” but added he never saw a vehicle at that time.
Officers located a spent shell casing in woods hundreds of yards from where Nelson was found with a gunshot wound to his upper back. Dodd’s rifle and the spent shell were analyzed, and it was determined that the shot that killed Nelson came from Dodd’s gun.
Nelson began his law enforcement career in the mid-1980s as a part-time deputy for the Becker County Sheriff’s Office and as a Pelican Rapids police officer. He worked for various law enforcement agencies in North Dakota before joining the Lake Park, Minn., Police Department, where he became chief.
He left Lake Park and was a sheriff’s deputy in Becker County from 1999 to 2006, then returned to the chief’s post in Lake Park until he retired in 2015. He leaves behind a wife, two children and one grandchild.