Red Lake man sentenced to 37 years for fatally shooting Red Lake officer

A Red Lake man was sentenced to 37 years in federal prison for the murder of a Red Lake Tribal Officer.

In an emotional sentencing hearing Tuesday in Bemidji, 17 people spoke on losing the 37-year-old Officer Ryan Bialke, including his coworkers, fellow officers, friends and family.

Officer Bialke’s wife of just over two months, Hester, had a statement read on her behalf.

“We were married only 66 days,” the statement said. “We had our whole lives ahead of us and it was stolen.”

“Ryan had a passion for life and a love for people,” said Lynnae Bialke, Officer Bialke’s mother.

She mentioned Officer Bialke’s work to recover the bodies of missing Red Lake fishermen in the winter of 2017-18, which involved months of winter dives into the frigid waters of Red Lake.

During the hearing, Judge Tunheim stated that the 37-year sentence was “justified by a senseless crime,” and extended condolences to the family of Officer Bialke, who gave his life in the line of duty, “he was a fine man, I wish I had known him.”

Red Lake Tribal Police responded to the home of 30-year-old David Donnell for a welfare check on July 27, 2021.

Donnell was standing on the porch and after briefly speaking with an officer, retreated inside.

Due to the nature of the welfare check and Donnell’s active tribal warrant, officers breached the door.

Officer Bialke was immediately struck by gunfire and fell.

Donnell continued firing at the other officers, exchanging gunfire with one while the others retreated into the woods.

Donnell was apprehended at a nearby residence after fleeing the scene.

Officer Bialke’s funeral procession had law enforcement officers across the state escorting him from the coroner’s office to his funeral in Red Lake.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University. You can follow along with Larissa's live tweets of meetings and events on Twitter!


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