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Full honors funeral planned for Polk deputy, injured in shoot-out 23 years ago

Polk County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Severson received numerous awards after he was injured in a shoot-out with a suspect in April, 1991. Severson died Monday at his home in St. Croix Falls. Submitted photo.

ST. CROIX FALLS -- A Polk County sheriff's deputy who suffered gunshot wounds 23 years earlier while pursuing a shooting suspect died Monday, April 14th at his home in St. Croix Falls.

Michael J. Severson lived out his life in relative independence as a quadriplegic, confined to a sip and puff-operated wheelchair, but remained actively interested in the sheriff's department, according to Sheriff Peter Johnson.

Severson's passing is classified as a line-of-duty of duty death and a full honors law enforcement funeral is being planned for 2 p.m. Saturday, April 19th at the St. Croix Falls High School, Johnson said.

Seversen had been a part-time Polk deputy for four years when he, several other deputies and State Troopers responded to a call for assistance from Webster police and Burnett County deputies in the search for shooting suspect Robert K. Reineccius.

Reineccius was believed to have wounded a man in Chisago County, Minn. on April 18th.

Officers spotted Reineccius later that night near Webster. A chase ensued during which the suspect eluded officers, abandoned his vehicle and ran into a wooded area.

The next day, April 19th, Severson and other officers spotted Reineccius on the run in a residential area near an elementary school in Webster. The suspect had a handgun at his side, which he'd taken from the individual he'd shot a day earlier.

When Severson confronted Reineccius, the suspect suddenly raised the gun and shot Severson in the face, then spun around and fired three shots at Burnett County Deputy Allen Albee, killing him.

Five other nearby officers immediately fired on Reineccius, striking him several times and killing him. Investigation later revealed Reineccius had told others he'd not go to prison, instead would engage in a shoot-out with police, causing officers to shoot him, effectively taking his own life.

Seversen was subsequently transported to the Burnett General Hospital in Grantsburg, then transferred to North Memorial Hospital in Coon Rapids, Minn.

In the course of his recovery and therapy at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Col., Severson learned to manipulate a sip & puff-activated mechanical wheel chair. He also learned to operate sip & puff controlled fishing rods and hunting rifles designed and built by his friend Todd Angel of St Croix Outdoors, Sheriff Johnson noted.

This allowed Severson to pursue his passion as an avid outdoorsman.

Although he lived independently at his home in St. Croix Falls, his medical needs steadily increased in later years.

He was the recipient of many awards and formal recognition including Law Enforcement Purple Heart and National Sheriff’s Deputy Sheriff of the Year.