A domestic dispute that exploded into violence on Valentine's Day left three people dead and a sheriff's deputy wounded in the tiny northwestern Minnesota town of Nevis.

Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes said Friday that the incident began shortly before 8 p.m. Thursday, when dispatchers received a 911 call reporting a shooting outside a home day care in the city, located about 185 miles north of the Twin Cities.

When deputies arrived, they found the body of a woman outside the home. The shooter fled the scene in the victim's car before law enforcement arrived. A second victim, who had also been shot, was still inside the vehicle.

During a 20-minute police chase that followed, the suspect fired at the pursuing vehicles, striking one of the deputies, authorities said. The pursuit continued and the suspect eventually drove into a ditch on County Road 119. A deputy spotted the suspect outside of the car and the two exchanged gunfire. The suspect then got back into the vehicle, where he died.

Aukes provided no other detail on the shootings, including the motive for the initial shooting at Lori's Little Feet Daycare in Nevis.

The wounded deputy was treated at a hospital in Fargo and released, Aukes said Friday. He did not release the names of the officer, the suspect or the suspect's shooting victims.

Family tragedy

A source familiar with the investigation said Friday that the incident began as Bryce and Billie Bellomo dropped off their three children at the home of their paternal grandmother, Lori Wambolt, who runs the day care. Two of Billie Bellomo's sisters — Heidi Pierce and Candi Goochey — pulled up in a car and Bryce Bellomo went outside. An argument ensued and shots were fired, the source said.

Deputies found Pierce's body in the driveway, the source said. Bryce Bellomo fled in a car with Goochey. Pierce, who recently married, has four children. Goochey, who divorced last year, has three.

Deputies found Bryce Bellomo, 34, dead in his car after the shootout with police.

Neither Lori Wambolt nor Billie Bellomo could be reached for comment Friday.

Bryce Bellomo was well known in Nevis, a city of 400 residents. He was an award-winning taxidermist, volunteer firefighter, Boy Scout leader and baseball coach, the source said.

Court records show that he had a permit to carry a firearm and was known to do so. Last March, he was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault and interfering with a 911 call in an incident involving his wife.

According to court records, the couple had an argument and Bryce Bellomo forcibly took his wife's cellphone and pushed her toward his vehicle, then drove her into the Paul Bunyan State Forest, where they got stuck. A SWAT team found them by pinging her cellphone and convinced Bryce Bellomo to walk out.

The charges were reduced to disorderly conduct and Bryce Bellomo was sentenced in August to 30 days in the Hubbard County Jail with 26 days suspended. He was placed on probation for a year. Billie Bellomo filed for divorce in September; the petition is pending.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is assisting in the investigation.

dan.browning@startribune.com 612-673-4493