Autopsy ordered in Lino Lakes officer's mysterious death - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Autopsy ordered in Lino Lakes officer's mysterious death

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LINO LAKES, Minn. (KMSP) -

The death of veteran police Sgt. Chris Bragelman shocked the community he served and is baffling his friends and loved ones. Now, authorities are hoping an autopsy can provide some answers.

Bragelman was found dead on the patio of a popular Hugo restaurant on Saturday night, but there are still a lot of questions about how he died. His body has since been sent to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner for an autopsy, but blood and toxicology tests could take weeks.

Initially, there was no obvious cause of death and those who knew the 37-year-old father of three told FOX 9 News he seemed healthy.

"This was completely out of left field," Lino Lakes Police Chief John Swenson said. "No indication there [were] any health concerns."

Swenson admitted he was as stunned to learn the department's veteran patrol sergeant suddenly died. He is hoping for answers just like everyone else.

"We all want to try to gain understanding, get answers, try to help us get closure," he said.

Bragelman was off-duty and out with an old high school friend enjoying dinner and drinks on the patio at the Blue Heron Bar and Grill when he died. Sources told FOX 9 News he had several drinks and was complaining of chest pains near closing time while his friend was elsewhere at the bar.

Someone noticed Bragelman had his eyes closed and seemed passed out, but he wasn't breathing and emergency life-saving efforts were unsuccessful.

"I don't even know what to think at this point. It doesn't feel real," said Emily Bragelman, his widow. "From what I hear, it sounds like natural causes."

Yet, Emily Bragelman said her husband did not have a heart condition that would have been cause for concern.

For the Lino Lakes Police Department, the mysterious death is crushing for an agency with only 25 sworn officers.

"Unfortunately, our agency -- as small as it is -- had more than our fair share of dealing with tragedy," Swenson said.

Nearly eight years ago, the department lost Officer Shawn Silvera in the line of duty. On Monday, black patches reappeared over badges and chaplains returned to the police station where flags were lowered to half-staff once again.

"An agency our size, to lose one of our officers is a big deal to us," Swenson said. "Everybody knows everybody."

Just hours before he passed away, Bragelman was at the police station with his family and fellow officers for a public open house. He even led one of the sessions and appeared to be both happy and healthy at the time.

A visitation will be held on Thursday, May 23rd 3-9 p.m. at Mueller-Bies Funeral Home, Lino Lakes Chapel.

The funeral will be held on Friday, May 24th at 11 a.m. at Eaglebrook Church, Blaine campus.

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