Nebraska Firefighter Shot at Fire Scene

Firefighter was treated for a gunshot wound to the arm and released from the hospital.


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ASHLAND, Neb. --

A firefighter was hit by gunfire Wednesday afternoon in Ashland, and after a standoff, the alleged shooter was shot by a Nebraska State Patrolman.

Four Ashland volunteer firefighters said they had responded to reports of a brush fire near Horseshoe Lake. According to the Cass County Sheriff, firefighters told the owner of the property, Stanley Bjorkman, 58, that he would receive a citation for illegal burning.

The sheriff said that's when Bjorkman went back in the house and got two guns and fired at least one of them at the firefighters.

Volunteer firefighter Rodger Alley was hit in the arm. He was treated and released from a hospital.

"I knew I was shot right away," Alley told KETV NewsWatch 7's Owen Lei in an exclusive interview after he was released from the hospital. "Right when it hit me, I knew I was shot. At that time, I was just trying to get somewhere safe."

Alley and three others said they were responding to a normally routine call of someone burning leaves when they shouldn't be. But then, Bjorkman started shooting at them, Alley said.

"We all scattered in different directions, but we all ended up in the same spot," Alley said.

Alley was the only one hit.

"It's something I don't ever want to have happen again," he said.

Ashland Mayor Ronna Wiig is a friend of Alley's.

"I went to high school with him. Great guy. He's been on fire and rescue for many, many years," Wiig said.

After Alley was taken for care, the standoff at Horseshoe Lake continued, until Bjorkman came out of his home and officers shot him, the state patrol said.

"Been on for 22 years, never seen anything like this," said Ashland Volunteer Fire Chief Brian Whitehead.

The same firefighters Bjorkman had shot at, minus Alley, were the ones who went to his rescue when shots were fired at him.

"That's the kind of job we're in," Alley said. "You could be rescuing someone that's bringing harm to yourself."

Alley said he feels lucky to be just sore, and he said he knows his brothers won't giving him any special treatment.

"One guy says, 'Well, at least you saved the truck,'" Alley said.

Whitehead said his department will have a critical incident debriefing and also have counselors on hand, so firefighters get a chance to talk about what happened at the event.

Alley is an 18-year veteran of the Ashland Volunteer Fire Department.

Bjorkman was holed up for two hours in his home. Capt. Steve Ayres said Bjorkman came out of the house and raised a weapon at officers, and that's when law enforcement shot him.

At last report, Bjorkman was in stable condition.

Some neighbors said they're not surprised Bjorkman got into trouble with police. Doug and Bonnie Peters, who live across the street, said they called the fire department after they saw smoke drift into their home. They also had a front row seat to the shooting. The Peters said they saw the man fire at police, then hole himself in his house, and they saw deputies fire multiple shots at the man.

"I witnessed everything up until him collapsing," said Doug Peters. "Once he collapsed, they came in right away handcuffed him, and began lifesaving efforts on him."

Several of the man's neighbors were stranded outside of their subdivision during the standoff for hours. They finally got to go back home at about 10 p.m.