Former Lake Park Police Chief, Deputy Sheriff Found Dead in Becker County
53-year-old Jay Nelson was found in his car with a gunshot wound after 6 p.m. on Saturday
BECKER COUNTY, Minn. — On Saturday evening, the Becker County Sheriff’s Office got a call there was a dead man in his car.
When they arrived, it was the last person they say they expected: their former colleague, 53–year–old Jay Nelson.
Yellowhead Trail in Becker County’s West Sugarbush Township is popular among many hunters, including Nelson, who spent many years hunting along it.
But on Saturday evening, it’s where he was driving and then found dead from a gunshot wound, shocking the entire county.
“I’ve just heard a lot of people that are saying that they’re sad obviously because he was well known in not only Detroit Lakes but the Lake Park area,” said Todd Glander, Becker County Sheriff. “Everybody’s surprised by an incident like this no matter who it is and especially when it’s somebody that a lot of people know. It touches a lot of people.”
Nelson was a deputy sheriff at the Becker County Sheriff’s Office. He was also a former police chief at the Lake Park Police Department before retiring in May 2015. His replacement was police chief Brady Burnside, who says Nelson was nothing but helpful during the transition.
“Surreal is a real way to describe it. It’s one thing to be working in the shadow of a former chief who was well respected in Lake Park. But now that he’s gone, it really changes the dynamic of work I’m doing in Lake Park trying to live up to his true legacy,” Burnside said.
White Earth Reservation law enforcement officers and first responders, the Ramsey County Examiner’s Office and the Minnesota BCA are now trying to help the Becker County Sheriff’s Office find answers.
“It’s something that you never expect, especially from someone that’s close like that and for the family, we’re doing everything to find out exactly what happened and hopefully put this case to rest as soon as we can,” Glander said.
Glander is asking for the public’s help to find answers, looking for someone who may have been in the area or heard any gunshots Saturday evening.
Glander says he doesn’t believe there are any signs of foul play.
There is no threat to the public at this time.