VNL Investigates: Suspects in Wadena County shootout previously threatened ‘war’ against police

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 6:19 PM CST
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WADENA, M.N. (Valley News Live) - We’re learning more tonight about the suspects involved in a shootout with Wadena County officers over the weekend, as family and friend’s tell Valley News Live the two were brothers, with what appeared to be a tumultuous relationship with law enforcement.

“41-24 I got him stopped here 270th, 205th avenue, I’m not sure what he’s doing,” an officer is heard saying on Wadena County Dispatch audio from Feb. 27.

What was supposed to be a simple traffic stop Saturday night just before 9 p.m., started going south shortly after a Wadena County Deputy pulled over who family and friends have identified as 42-year-old David Savela, of Sebeka, Minn.

“Subject is non-compliant. Trying to drive away, but he’s stuck,” an officer tells Wadena Dispatch.

Just moments later, the deputy calls for multiple back-up units as a civilian, who family and friends identify as Savela’s brother, 36-year-old Shannon Savela pulls up behind the traffic stop.

“Can you head out here? I got another vehicle behind me. Adam, boy, Paul 7-3-3, second vehicle,” the officer says.

That license plate matches a maroon Chevy Malibu that Shannon posted about on Facebook multiple times.

“Wadena 41-24, 46-20 status?” a Wadena County Dispatcher asks for a status check on the Wadena Deputy and the Sebeka Police Officer at least three times.

Radio traffic from the two officers on scene goes radio silent before a frantic call to dispatchers comes through a few minutes later.

“Shots fired!!” an officer yells. “424′s hit!”

Officers later relayed to dispatchers tasers were deployed, before the second subject opened fire.

“Both subjects were armed,” an officer says.

Wadena County officials say one of the suspects died on scene, while the other died at a nearby hospital.

Family and friends of the Savela brothers say the two weren’t fond of local law enforcement and haven’t been for a couple years, which is a statement that’s only further proven through court documents and social media posts.

In July 2019, Shannon Savela posted twice on his page stating he ‘didn’t trust’ the Sebeka Police Department, and another of his posts stated Sebeka Police better expect not to go unseen or unforgiven, as a ‘war is about to start.’

Court documents obtained by Valley News Live on Monday show just the day before Shannon’s 2019 post was made, David was arrested and charged for trying to punch a Sebeka officer in the face with a closed fist.

Documents say the officer was initially trying to issue a citation to David for violating a city ordinance. Documents show David’s case was still going through the court system as of Feb. 27, and he was facing time behind bars. His friends and family say that was something David did not want to do.

The Wadena County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota BCA say they will not confirm the identities of the two suspects until their formal autopsy is finished.

The Wadena County Sheriff’s Office Deputy who was shot during the incident was released from the hospital on Sunday afternoon and is recovering at home. The other officer was hit in his vest and did not require medical treatment.

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