Andrew Salinas, convicted of the brutal 1988 murder of Clermont (MN) Police Chief Gregory Lange, is scheduled for a “Life Sentence Review” on May 7. Salinas was sentenced to life in prison for violently beating and shooting Chief Lange. The incident occurred merely fifty feet from Chief Lange’s home.
On Tuesday, July 5, 1988, Chief Lange was awakened by a neighbor, Rebecca Bermea. Bermea reported that Lange was needed at her sister, Yesinia Ortega’s residence. Ortega’s boyfriend, Andrea Salinas also lived there. According to Bermea, Salinas pistol-whipped and fired the weapon at Ortega while Ortega had been holding the couple’s five month old baby girl. Salinas had also threatened to take Ortega to a cornfield and kill her.
Lange called for backup and responded to the home. He observed Salinas holding a gun to Ortega’s head and attempting to exit their home. Ortega was still holding the baby in her arms. Lange identified himself and attempted to separate Salinas from Ortega and the baby. Ortega fled the scene and ran to her parent’s home, where she placed a second call to 911. Bermea hid in some bushes and witnessed the scene from a distance.
Lange and Salinas wrestled near the entrance of the home. Andrew Salinas’s brother, Robert Salinas, had been inside the home. He charged the pair and pushed Chief Lange out the door and down the steps. Robert Salinas would later claim that he had been asleep on inside the house and that he did not know who had been fighting with his brother.
Chief Lange drew his service weapon, but Robert Salinas grabbed a shovel and struck Chief Lange several times in the head, arm, and shoulder, causing Chief Lange to drop his weapon. Andrew Salinas grabbed the firearm and shot Chief Lange twice, fatally wounding him.
The two brothers then stole Chief Lange’s money and the keys to Chief Lange’s patrol vehicle. The brothers hid Chief Lange’s body under some bushes and then fled in Chief Lange’s patrol car.
The backup units for Lange’s call had been in the midst of a medical emergency 7 miles away. When they did arrive on the scene, they located the chief and he was airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester. Sadly, Chief Lange passed away, due to numerous skull fractures and gunshot wounds to his back and to his shoulder.
The Salinas brothers were later apprehended 350 miles away, in Kansas City, Missouri. Robert Salinas pled guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 18 and a half years. This was before the law was changed to require that cop killers would receive a mandatory life sentence, with no eligibility for parole. He was released on parole after serving only twelve years in prison. In 2000, he was released on parole to the State of Texas. In 2002, he absconded supervision and he was extradited back to Minnesota. In 2003, Robert was released on parole for a second time. He and two other parolees walked away from a halfway house, stole a car, and attempted to flee to Mexico. Robert Salinas was again apprehended and was released in 2007.
Andrew Salinas pled guilty to first degree murder and received a life sentence with eligibility for parole after eighteen years. His last parole hearing was held on June 3, 2002. The parole board rendered the decision that Salinas remain in prison, with another parole hearing in ten years.
Andrew Salinas has never apologized, nor has he shown any remorse for his behavior. He is reported to be a danger to public safety, as well as a flight risk. In 2008, Salinas and four other inmates attempted to escape Bayport Prison. They cut a door that led to the shaft of an abandoned cargo elevator and attempted to burrow their way to freedom. Salinas was remanded to confinement for 540 days.
Chief Lange is survived by his loving wife, Susan, and their son, Chris, who was twelve years old at the time of Chief Lange’s murder. Chief Lange adored his young son and coached Little League in order to spend more quality time with his him. Susan Lange has been left to raise their young son alone. She has stated that both she and Chris have suffered with incredible emotional turmoil, and that Chris still will not talk about that horrible night.
“I have come to peace with this, but it hasn’t been easy. I haven’t reached the point where I can forgive Salinas,” Susan said. “If it takes me until the day I die, I will fight as hard as I can to keep him in prison. He doesn’t deserve to be free. He deserves to be in prison for the rest of his life. Even life in prison isn’t enough for what he did.”
“We are simply asking that he not be released,” she continued. “My husband was murdered in cold blood, while my husband performed his duties a police officer. People need to know that when my husband left out house that night, he was going to help someone. My husband gave his life so that others may live.”
Lange was thirty-nine years old and had been in law enforcement for sixteen years. He had previously served as a police officer in Owatonna from 1972-1978, and he had been at Clermont for two and a half years. Chief Lange was presented with a challenge, due to a pervasive anti-law enforcement spirit among the community. He earned the citizen’s trust and made himself available to listen to and address their concerns. People knew that they could contact him for help, any time of day or night.
Chief Lange was well loved and respected by civilians and law enforcement alike. He has been described as a natural “kid magnet”. In addition to coaching Little League and being active in his church, Chief Lange opened his home to children who had no where to go after school. Local children who needed help knew that they could turn to Chief Lange. He established a Crime Stoppers and drug abuse hotline.
Chief Lange is fondly remembered by the officers who worked with him. Dodge County Sheriff Ernie Vanderhyde said he and Chief Lange had an “excellent working relationship” and that Lange was “very dedicated” to his job. Dodge County deputies still wear a black memorial pin on their uniforms in Chief Lange’s honor. The memory of Chief Lange’s tragic death still lingers with the officers who knew and loved Chief Lange.
Dodge County Sheriff Jim Jensen had been one of the first officers on the scene. He stated that he still has vivid memories of that night. “I am hoping that Salinas doesn’t get paroled,” said Sheriff Jenson. “Anyone who murders a fireman, ambulance personnel, or a police officer should suffer consequences for the rest of his life.”
Lange was the 28th officer to be killed in the line of duty in Minnesota since 1970.
Letters should be addressed to:
A suggested email follows. Feel free to cut and paste this into your email.
To Whom It May Concern:
It is my understanding that Andrew Salinas, inmate #150723 is eligible for a “Life Sentence Review” hearing on May 7th, 2012. I respectfully ask that you do not consider parole or early release of any kind to inmate #150723.
On July 5, 1988, inmate #150723 murdered Police Chief Gregory Lange by brutally beating him and then shooting him with his own service weapon, after holding his girlfriend and baby hostage at gunpoint. He is a cold blooded killer who would endanger society by being released.
He has shown his contempt for the justice system on many occasions, including his attempted escape from prison in 2008 As a concerned citizen, and in the interest of public safety, I again respectfully ask that you keep inmate #150723 behind bars for the entirety of his life sentence. Justice demands that he be made to spend every remaining day of his life in prison.