MARSHALL - Residents of the city of Granite Falls have been through their share of hardship and heartache during the last decade-plus, but Mayor Dave Smiglewski said it's hard to compare floods and tornadoes to what took place Monday morning when a woman was shot to death in her home.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner on Wednesday identified the victim as Kara Ann Monson, 26, of Granite Falls, who died of multiple gunshot wounds. A second victim, Christopher Allen Panitzke, 28, of Redwood Falls, is being treated at Hennepin County Medical Center for multiple gunshot wounds.
Meanwhile, Smiglewski said Granite Falls residents are left with more questions than answers. He said the town has been besieged by rumors since Monday and is struggling to cope with an incident that's foreign to most small communities.
"People are wondering what's going on; there just hasn't been much information really," he said. "Of course, people are nervous - somebody killed a young lady and there's a person at large. That's not good. People are pretty shook up about the whole thing, it's their worst nightmare - somebody breaking into your house and points a gun at you at 3 in the morning. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to wonder, 'What if that was me?' It's a frightening thing."
Smiglewski said it's been about 10 to 15 years since there has been a homicide in Granite Falls.
"These things just don't happen in any small town in this part of the state," he said. "There's a lot of uneasiness, and a lot of sadness. This should not have happened. There's a lot of speculation going around - could this have been avoided, were there warning signs?"
Smiglewski said one commonality between Monday's homicide and past weather-related events residents that shook the small town is how the community has banded together.
"People are kind of pulling together; most know the family," he said. "People kind of gather around, circle the wagons, try to be supportive. That's a mark of a small town in rural Minnesota, or any small, midwestern town - people try to help out and be supportive. But this is a little different, because it was caused by a human, through anger, passion, who knows what."
Investigators on Wednesday located the vehicle believed to have been driven by the man identified as a person of interest in connection with the shooting, Andrew Joseph Dikken, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said Wednesday. Officials say Dikken is Monson's ex-boyfriend.
Dikken, who has not been officially named as a suspect, remains at-large.
The 1996 GMC Sierra pickup was found in a remote location, approximately 5 miles north of Belview, off of Redwood County Road 7, the DPS said.
Anyone knowing Dikken's whereabouts is asked to contact the Granite Falls Police Department, the Yellow Medicine Sheriff's Office or 911. Authorities believe Dikken may be armed and dangerous and should not be approached.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is assisting in the ongoing investigation.