A man armed with a knife took a hostage in the street of an Iron Range city and was fatally shot in the head by a local police officer, authorities said.

The incident unfolded shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday in Virginia, Minn., and started as a report of “suspicious activity” near Holy Spirit Catholic Church in the 300 block of 2nd Street S., where a man ordered a woman out of her vehicle, according the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

The man then entered the vehicle but later got out and grabbed a male bystander on the sidewalk.

Virginia police officers and St. Louis County sheriff’s deputies responded and soon afterward the suspect had a knife and was “running at us,” an officer on the scene reported to dispatch.

Moments later, an officer reported that “we got a hostage situation,” the emergency dispatch audio revealed. “Get a rifle out here. ... He’s got a male hostage.”

Shots were fired, and an officer was heard telling dispatch that the suspect has a “gunshot wound to the head. ... Labored breathing, unresponsive.”

The subject was taken by ambulance to Essentia Health-Virginia Hospital and declared dead, according to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), which is heading the investigation. The man was later identified as 41-year-old J Scot Alan Widmark, of Virginia. An autopsy at the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Widmark died of a gunshot wound.

Crime scene personnel recovered a knife at the scene of the shooting, the BCA said.

Officer Nick Grivna, who’s served at the Virginia Police Department five years, was placed on standard administrative leave. Officers were not wearing body cameras, according to the BCA. Investigators were checking on whether squad cameras captured the incident.


Star Tribune staff writers Vince Tuss, Tim Harlow and Liz Sawyer contributed to this report.