On Thursday, Feb. 12, an ordinary day turned tragic for workers at Sioux Steel’s ProTec building in the Lennox Industrial Park. Around 2 p.m., a man entered the front office and began firing shots from a handgun. Bullets struck Jon Richter and Kathy Steever. Fellow coworker Brian Roesler confronted the attacker. Gunman Jeffrey DeZeeuw did not shoot Roesler but landed several blows to his head and face before fleeing.
The attack left Steever critically wounded. She was airlifted to a Sioux Falls hospital, where she underwent surgery and remains in recovery. Roesler was treated for his injuries and released Thursday night. Richter did not survive. His funeral will be held Friday, Feb. 20 at Chancellor Reformed Church at 1:30 p.m. More information about the service is available on page 4. Watch next week’s newspaper for the complete obituary.
Police believe the shooting stemmed from a disagreement between Richter, a dispatcher for Sioux Steel, and DeZeeuw, a driver for the company’s Plains Xpress fleet. DeZeeuw reportedly become agitated about being assigned an out-of-state delivery run by Richter.
Lennox Police Officer Will Ericksen was first to respond, quickly getting word to the schools so they could be put in lockdown mode to keep students safe. Lennox Police Chief Orv Jorgensen was in Sioux Falls at the time the call went out, but was quickly notified. He joined a rush of other law enforcement vehicles on the interstate, noting thick black smoke as he got closer.
Elaine Anderson, who lives just across Highway 17 and down the block to the north of ProTec, received a call from a worried relative telling her to lock her doors. Anderson wasn’t home. She was taking a friend to an appointment in Sioux Falls and crossed paths with the wave of law enforcement vehicles rushing to the scene. “I knew it must be something big that they were headed to,” she recalls.
When Chief Jorgensen arrived on scene at the Lennox Industrial Park, he and other responding officers and agencies quickly set up a perimeter and staging areas, briefly closing the intersection of south Main Street and Highway 44 while searching for the suspect, who witnesses said fled south. Main Street homes and businesses joined the schools in lockdown.
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