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Minn. fire rescue turns into police ambush

One man was hit with a slug in the abdomen and the officer took a shot to the chest

FAIRMONT, Minn. — An attempt to save a man from a burning house resulted in an ambush Tuesday.

When one man discovered that a house in his southern Minnesota neighborhood was engulfed in flames, he immediately told a neighbor to call 911.

The cop who responded was Officer Chad Sanow, who has been with the Fairmont, Minnesota Police Department for six years.

The Sanow and the man, Matthew Van Watermulen, entered the house to make sure nobody was in danger. Upon doing so, they were attacked by gunfire.

Van Watermulen was hit with a slug in the abdomen and Sanow took a shot to the chest. Luckily, he was wearing body armor. Van Watermulen survived as well.

“The bullet proof vest absolutely saved Sanow’s life,” Lieutenant Del Ellis said.

The gunman’s fate was quite different. His body was found inside the burning house, dead.

“He did take his own life,” said he Lieutenant.

A friend of the shooter spoke to KAAL on a condition of anonymity.

“It’s a shock that he went to this extent,” he said. “But the thing is, he didn’t like officers in town. Was he in his right mind? No. Nobody’s in their right mind when they do something like this.”

“Officer Sanow went there to save lives and this gunman decided he wanted to kill a cop,” Ellis said in a news conference. “This has rocked the law enforcement community. We all know the dangers of the job, but last night we faced a very grim situation, and our hats are off to Officer Sanow.”

According to the Associated Press, records show the home is owned by Michael Mathwig, a 49-year-old man who was on probation after pleading guilty to fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct. The AP reports that he was accused of exposing himself to a teenage girl in the neighborhood.

He was also convicted of DUI in 1998.

It has not been confirmed that Mathwig was the shooter.


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