Police: Kids and bystanders on scene when suspect presented gun in Monday’s shooting

Mario Rodriguez (Left)
Elija Wright (Right)
Mario Rodriguez (Left) Elija Wright (Right)(Minnehaha County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 11:40 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 12, 2022 at 11:41 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Sioux Falls police gave an update on Monday’s officer-involved shooting that started as a routine traffic stop and has since been turned over to the DCI for further investigation.

Chief Jon Thum with the Sioux Falls Police Department said officers received a tip about a group of parole absconders that were possibly hiding or gathering at a residence. The tip mentioned there were potentially firearms involved as well.

Thum said two officers went to investigate the tip and recognized two people they could see in a vehicle coming from the residence. Since the officers knew the driver was driving with a revoked license, they did a routine traffic stop and had the car pull over into a parking lot at 6th and Cleveland Ave around 2 p.m. As they were pulling in, the suspect car did a maneuver as if they were going to do a u-turn or something of that nature, so their car ended up more head-to-head with the patrol car.

At that point, a passenger in the backseat, which officers had not seen before, presented a shotgun. Thum said there was a group of kids in the parking lot and bystanders which heightens the danger of the situation. Officers did respond to the threat of the suspect’s gun by firing their firearms. Thum said the two people in the front seat had exited the vehicle and were laying on the ground and the backseat passenger exited the vehicle and ran towards a nearby carwash office.

The suspect with the gun, 26-year-old Mario Rodriguez, had left the firearm in the car and was therefore unarmed when officers were trying to convince him to exit the office. Police said Rodriguez was not cooperating and they used a taser to get him in custody.

Rodriguez is from Sioux Falls and had two initial charges, one was a parole violation, and he also had a warrant for Possession of a Controlled Substance- these were from the DCI investigation. Police spokesman Sam Clemens said more charges are most likely pending for Rodriguez, but that will be determined by the DCI.

The driver is Lavencia Badwound, 33, from Sioux Falls, and had one charge of driving with a revoked license. Elijah Wright was the front seat passenger and he had meth and paraphernalia in his possession.

Thum said he cannot say how many shots were fired, but the vehicle absorbed most of the bullets. Officers also could not say whether Rodriguez fired any shots or if his gun was loaded, as the incident is still under investigation by the DCI.

Officers discovered the gun Rodriguez had used was a modified gun. Clemens said part of the handle was sawed off and the barrel was shortened which might have violated the standards for a legal gun put in place by the ATF. In the investigation, the DCI will determine whether or not the modified gun was legal.

Thum said there was one minor injury, someone had sustained a scratch to their wrist but there was enough blood to have some left at the scene.

Two officers are on administrative leave according to Clemens.

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