Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

DOJ seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Minnesota
Andrew M. Luger, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Friday, April 1, 2022

Red Lake Man Pleads Guilty to Murder in the Shooting Death of a Red Lake Tribal Police Officer

MINNEAPOLIS – A Red Lake man has pleaded guilty to fatally shooting a Red Lake Tribal Police Officer, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.

According to court documents, on July 27, 2021, officers with the Red Lake Tribal Police Department (“RLTPD”) responded to a call to conduct a welfare check on David Brian Donnell, Jr., 29, at his residence in Redby, Minnesota. Five RLTPD officers responded to Donnell’s residence. Upon arrival, the officers found Donnell standing outside on the porch and attempted to have him walk towards the officers, but Donnell instead went inside the residence. Because Donnell had an active tribal warrant and was refusing to comply, the officers made the decision to breach the door. As soon as the door was breached, Donnell opened fire on the officers. Officer Ryan Bialke was immediately struck by gunfire and fell. Donnell continued shooting, firing several rounds from an Izhmash Saiga 7.62 caliber rifle at the four other officers on the scene. One RLTPD officer returned fire to allow the officers to escape into the woods. Donnell continued firing at the officers as they fled into the woods. Donnell fired at least 22 shots at Officer Bialke and the four other RLTPD officers. Officer Bialke succumbed to his injuries and died on the scene. Donnell then fled the scene, taking the rifle with him. Shortly thereafter, officers arrested Donnell at a nearby residence.

Donnell pleaded guilty today before Chief U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim to one count of murder in the second degree. Donnell faces a maximum sentence of up to life in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Red Lake Tribal Police Department, the FBI Headwaters Safe Trails Task Force, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melinda A. Williams and Joseph S. Teirab are prosecuting the case.

An official website of the U.S. Department of Justice

Looking for U.S. government information and services?