News Detail

Group Honors Washington County (MN) SWAT Hostage Negotiation Team

  March 27, 2013.

The Washington County SWAT hostage-negotiation team was named Negotiations Team of the Year night during a Special Operations Training Association awards banquet Monday in St. Cloud, according to a release from the Woodbury Public Safety Department.

Washington County Sheriff William Hutton and Crisis Negations Team Cmdr. Lonnie Van Klei nominated the Washington County SWAT negotiation team for for its response to a hostage situation in Woodbury on Aug. 31, 2012.

“The professionalism and dedication to doing exceptional work as a crisis negotiations team was acknowledged with these awards,” Woodbury Det. Jeff Zerwas, team lead for the Washington County SWAT negotiation team, said in a release. “We are fortunate to have the right mix of people in our organization.”

Also, Woodbury Det. Chris Rheault was recognized as the Hostage Negotiator of the Year by the Special Operations Training Association.

The Washington County SWAT team talked to Demetrius Santrell Ballinger—who was later charged with 27 felonies, including attempted murder and rape—over a four-hour period during the Aug. 31, 2012, standoff at the Red Roof Inn in Woodbury. He eventually released the hostages and was arrested.

One hostage was killed in the early stages of the August 2012 standoff. Police approaching the door of the motel room heard a shot fired, then opened fire as a man ran from the room. Mark Eric Henderson, 19, of St. Paul, died at Regions Hospital as a result of multiple gunshot wounds. The officers involved were cleared in the shooting.