AITKIN, Minn. (KMSP) - Steven Sandberg was an Aitkin County deputy, investigator, volunteer firefighter, Sunday school teacher and community leader. But everyone agrees his most important and favorite role was father.
“My dad showed me how to treat people like human beings,” Cassie Sandberg said, in a beautiful eulogy to her father. “There’s lots of things I don’t know about this world. But the one thing I do know is how extremely much my dad loved me.”
The 19-year old opened up her now-broken heart, reminiscing about childhood games and more recent adult conversations with her dad.
“To me, he was not just my father,” she said. “He was my best friend, my travel buddy, my sports watcher and my biggest fan.”
The life of Deputy Sandberg was taken last Sunday, Oct. 18. He was shot to death with his own service weapon after a confrontation inside a St. Cloud Hospital room. His colleagues referred to him as 203 -- his badge number. He was the veteran Aitkin County sheriff’s office investigator who handled the tough cases with unmatched care and compassion.
“I think Steve was proud to be the hometown guy,” Aitkin County Sheriff Scott Turner said. “Proud of his law enforcement family and proud to give back to his community in such an important way. Maybe that’s why he will always be 203 here.”
Sandberg was the quintessential hometown hero. He grew up in Aitkin, was a standout student-athlete, and returned to the small north-central Minnesota town to serve and protect the community. On Friday, his family, his community and his brothers and sisters in uniform came together, filling his old high-school for a tear-filled goodbye.
“As proud as he was to be a cop, he never let that become his life identity,” Sheriff Turner said. “Rather, he let the content of his character define who he was and the officer he became.”