CROOKSTON, Minn. – The Crookston police officer who shot and killed a man at a homeless shelter last week also fatally shot a man six weeks earlier, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Nick Gunner Fladland, 31, was identified by the BCA as the officer who used deadly force June 30 against Christopher Ryan Junkin, 44, of California, who died of multiple gunshot wounds at the Care and Share shelter.

“He was crying out for help, and he got killed in return,” said Junkin’s nephew Bobby Rodriguez in a phone call Wednesday from San Luis Obispo, Calif.

“I’m all for backing the blue,” he said. “But the way my uncle got shot and killed like that was just totally uncalled for. It’s really hard. We’re all trying to wrap our head around it.”

Fladland, who has five years of law enforcement experience, is on critical leave. He was also placed on critical leave following the May 16 fatal shooting of a 35-year-old Crookston man, Andrew Scott Dale, who was wielding a hatchet.

It’s unclear how long such leave lasts; the deadly shootings were 45 days apart. The BCA said each police department has its own leave policy and the agency deferred to Crookston police for answers.

Police Chief Darin Selzler said in an email that Fladland was on leave for 16 days. The duration of leave “is based upon the totality of circumstances,” he said, such as consultation with a designated department mental health professional. Selzler said the department has no predetermined duration for leave when an officer is involved in a shooting.

Mayor Dale Stainbrook declined to say whether he believes Fladland should’ve been back on duty after the first shooting, or if he should remain on the force after killing two civilians.

“It was two isolated incidents. Granted, it happened within weeks of each other, but like I said, we haven’t had anything like this as long as I can remember, and I grew up in this town,” Stainbrook said in a phone interview.

Rodriguez said there’s no question that Fladland returned to duty too soon and he should not be on the force. “I don’t think he should have been back on duty within a short matter of time after taking another young man’s life dealing with a mental health crisis.”

The BCA said in a news release that Fladland first deployed his Taser before firing his handgun.

Officer Corey Rich, with two years of experience, and Polk County deputy April Hansen also deployed Tasers. Hansen has 14 years experience, according to the BCA, and she also used a chemical irritant.

Law enforcement responded to reports of men fighting at the shelter. When they arrived, the BCA said they made contact with Junkin, who was allegedly breaking items and ignored verbal commands. He followed officers as they backed down a hallway, the BCA said.

But Junkin’s roommate at the shelter, Robert Fox, told Valley News Live that he disputes the police account of the incident. Fox said he told officers: “This is a mental health issue, it’s not a fight. I don’t want to press charges,” the Fargo TV station reported.

The officers and deputies were wearing body cameras that captured portions of the incident. The BCA is reviewing this footage as part of the investigation.

Rodriguez said Junkin’s family viewed the body camera video and he doesn’t believe the shooting was justified. He said his uncle was naked, unarmed and in crisis.

“My uncle didn’t do anything to those officers for his life to be taken,” he said. “They didn’t give him the help he needed, and instead, they killed him.”

Junkin, a father of four, was a father figure to Rodriguez. He said his uncle moved to Minnesota for a woman, spent some time living in Minneapolis and fell on hard times.

In April, Junkin was charged with first-degree damage to property in Hennepin County. According to the charges, he was at the Mall of America on July 24, 2023, when surveillance showed him throwing a planter over the fourth floor balcony. Junkin is accused of trying to force entry into a closed restaurant and causing nearly $5,000 in damage to the door.

He has no other criminal history in Minnesota, but in civil court a Minneapolis woman filed a harassment and domestic abuse restraining order against Junkin that was granted by a Hennepin County judge last year. Messages were left with the woman seeking comment.

“He will truly be missed. We, as a family, just want to bring Chris home (to California),” niece Amanda Elliott wrote on the family’s GoFundMe site.

Rodriguez said the family didn’t know Junkin was staying at the homeless shelter.

The Care and Share of Crookston, Inc. shared on Facebook that it is closed until July 18 “as we embark on a healing journey to progress in a positive direction.”

In the May 16 fatal shooting, Selzler said the suspect “rapidly approached” police, who initially used less-lethal measures to stop him.

Two police officers and a Polk County sheriff’s deputy fired at Dale after responding to the 911 call in May. Officers encountered him swinging a hatchet in the streets shortly before 1 a.m. in a residential area near the Polk County Government Center.

The BCA said officer Alex Rudnik first deployed his Taser and deputy Matt Benge fired 40-millimeter foam rounds. Fladland fired his department handgun, striking Dale several times.

Star Tribune staff writers Paul Walsh and Louis Krauss contributed to this story.