Red Lake, MN – Red Lake Nation Conservation Officer Shannon “Opie” Barron died in the line of duty on Sunday after suffering a medical emergency while working overtime.
The 48-year-old officer was just about to go off-shift when he heard a call go out about a possible illegal harvest taking place off of Highway 89 north of town, the Red Lake Police Department (RLPD) said in a press release.
Instead of heading home, Officer Barron headed to the scene.
"Not a lot of officers are like him," Retired Red Lake Police Chief Joyce Roy told the Grand Forks Herald. "He was always there for backup, even if it was the end of his shift."
As the investigation wrapped up and the officers prepared to leave the scene, Officer Barron suddenly became ill and radioed for medical assistance for himself.
His fellow officers “immediately performed life saving measures” until an ambulance arrived, the RLPD said.
Officer Barron was rushed to Red Lake Indian Health Service Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, according to the Grand Forks Herald.
The Ramsey County medical examiner will determine his exact cause of death, KSTP reported.
"I don't know if there is anybody who can fill his shoes, he was that kind of officer," retired Chief Roy told the Grand Forks Herald. “Everybody had faith in him. [He] never turned you down for help.”
The RLPD said that Officer Barron often showed up to help area officers, even when he hadn’t been asked to respond.
“Even to the last moment, Officer Barron gave his life in protecting the resources belonging to the people of Red Lake Nation,” the department said. “He was a staunch defender when it came to protecting the natural resources of the nation and constantly stood side by side with the officers in the department regardless of the type of call it was.”
He was especially concerned about younger officers’ safety, and was quick to offer advice on ways they could respond to situations while also protecting themselves.
Officer Barron, a 19-year veteran-of-the-force, leaves behind his wife, his two children, and his aunt, who raised him as her own, according to the RLPD.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Red Lake Nation Conservation Officer Shannon “Opie” Barron, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.