Custer man dies in shooting
Published: Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
An early Tuesday morning confrontation with law enforcement officers on Mt. Rushmore Road in Custer resulted in the shooting death of a 22-year-old Custer man.
Cody Engen was shot and killed by a highway patrolman when he refused to put down his semi-automatic pistol in front of the former Bank Coffee House. Engen was a U.S. Marine recently back from a tour in Afghanistan.
Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler said he got a call at his residence about 2 a.m. Tuesday that an individual was displaying a gun to people on the street. His office also received numerous calls of multiple hit and run incidents around town. Signs and mailboxes were reportedly damaged.
“We tried to communicate with him, mainly by cell phone,” Wheeler said. “We didn’t get anywhere.”
Cherish Baker, owner of Baker’s Cafe, 541 Mt. Rushmore Road, said her stepson Brad Baker and his girlfriend came around the corner to their upstairs apartment about 1:30 a.m. and observed a man waving a pistol.
They locked the downstairs door to their apartment above the bakery and cafe and called 9ll. Brad still had his California cell phone so he got the LAPD instead of the local 911. His girlfriend called 911 on her phone and reported the gun-wielding person on Mt. Rushmore Road.
The gunman attempted to kick in the downstairs door. “They were pretty scared and shaken up at this point,” said Cherish Baker. The kicking ceased and they went to bed only to be awakened later by gunshots in the street below them.
“I’m just glad I didn’t get to work at my normal 3:15 or 3:30 in the morning. Otherwise, I would have been right in the middle of it,” she said. The bakery and cafe is located on the north side of the street, just across from the shooting scene.
At one point in the chase, officers took gunfire in the vicinity of Wildcat Lane and Sidney Park Road near the high school. Wheeler said they did not return fire.
Sometime after this, Engen rammed the pickup he was driving into the front of the sheriff’s office building. He got out of the pickup and traveled on foot to a point in the street near the front of the Bank Coffee House, which is located at the southwest intersection of Mt. Rushmore Road and 6th Street.
The sheriff said there were law enforcement officers to the north and south of Engen at the intersection, as well as to the west on Mt. Rushmore Road, effectively surrounding him.
Wheeler said law enforcement officers ordered Engen to put down his pistol numerous times. When he made a threatening move, he was shot with a rifle by highway patrolman Todd Albertson who was in the intersection. The incident ended at 3:45 a.m., according to Mike Carter, Custer County emergency management director and county dispatch supervisor.
Blood in the street at the shooting scene was being washed away about 9:30 a.m. by a Custer Volunteer Fire Department truck. Shortly thereafter, state Department of Criminal Investigation and Rapid City Police Department investigative units completed their work and the downtown area was again open to traffic.
Business owners and employees in the 500 block of Mt. Rushmore Road were prevented from entering their buildings until the yellow police tape was removed from the area surrounding the shooting scene.
Traffic was routed differently at the high school Tuesday morning because of the evidence scene being worked by investigators there.
Engen is a 2007 graduate of Custer High School. He is the son of Dan and Priscilla Engen of Custer and was a Marine scout/sniper who was previously deployed to Iraq. Dan Engen is a Custer County Sheriff’s Deputy.
“I’m just glad nobody else was hurt,” Wheeler said.
“You can see why we want more people out at night. We need at least two people on duty at night,” Wheeler said.
The sheriff has been lobbying the Custer County commissioners for an additional deputy to help cover the night shift more effectively.
The incident is being investigated by the state DCI. At the completion of the investigation, the DCI will issue a case report and shooting summation to be reviewed by Attorney General Marty Jackley, Custer County State’s Attorney and the Custer County Sheriff’s Office for a final determination on the officers’ actions.
Release of the summary report is expected within 30 days, according to a news release from the AG’s office in Pierre.
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