Two deputies assist National Guard in Minneapolis

Local News

Last Friday was anything but a normal workday for two Faribault County Sheriff Department law officers and their families.

Investigator Mark Purvis and deputy Briar Bonin arrived at the Sheriff’s Office for their day-shift duties.

Then, around 9 a.m. they got a message on their cell phone — members of their four-county SWAT team were being asked to assist with the civil unrest in Minneapolis.

“My wife wasn’t too thrilled when I called and told her. She just told me to be careful,” says Purvis. “I talked to my two daughters, told them I loved them and would be home later.”

Before the deputies could make their way to Minneapolis they needed and got the OK from Sheriff Mike Gormley and Chief Deputy Scott Adams.

That has never been a problem and although the two deputies could have said they didn’t want to report, there wasn’t any chance that was going to happen.

“I guess it’s kind of a calling, to do anything we can. We just wanted to help,” says Purvis.

At a moment’s notice they changed into their SWAT team uniform and made the drive to the area referred to as “The Third Precinct,” the epicenter where thousands protested the police killing of George Floyd.

“It was definitely shocking to see the amount of damage. I knew it was bad, but until you see it in person you don’t realize it. It looked like a tornado went through the area,” says Purvis.

Upon their arrival, the two deputies and five other members of the SWAT team put on protective gear transported in three used ambulances donated to the group, one from United Hospital District in Blue Earth.

Based at the intersection of Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue, the Target store that was vandalized and looted was within walking distance as were the Auto Zone store and police station that were started on fire.

“There were businesses with broken windows and glass everywhere on the ground. I felt bad for the people there. But, there were a lot of people sweeping and helping to clean up the mess,” says Purvis.

The SWAT team’s mission: arrest any protester the National Guard wants apprehended.

Purvis says the number of protesters were in the “multiple hundreds” with many coming and leaving. He says there was never a need to arrest anyone.

“With that large number of people I definitely was worried, but we never felt threatened,” he says. “But, you don’t know if or when something is going to happen.”

Purvis and Bonin have served seven and four years respectively on the SWAT team that has some 20 members from Faribault, Freeborn, Steele and Waseca counties.

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