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Hero Down: St. Paul Police Officer Mark Distel Dies Unexpectedly

New Hope, MN – St. Paul Police Department (SPPD) Officer Mark Distel died unexpectedly while off-duty on Jan. 3.

The SPPD said the 45-year-old officer passed away at his home, according to Bring Me The News.

His exact cause of death was not released.

Officer Distel served the SPPD for 22 years.

“It’s a heartbreaking loss for all of us,” St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said in a statement. “Mark joined the SPPD in 2000 and quickly became more than just a police officer—he was an admired and respected member of our community, a trusted partner on every call and a beloved member of our SPPD family.”

He was also a highly-decorated officer.

“His personnel jacket is filled with commendations and letters of admiration and thanks from people he met and helped and showed warmth throughout his career,” Chief Axtell wrote. “In simple terms, Mark was a great guy, even-keeled with an awesome sense of humor.”

Officer Distel worked off-duty jobs at Minnesota Wild games, WWE events, and other special functions, according to his obituary.

“He was well known for his quick wit and quirky sense of humor. He always had a funny story to tell and was more than willing to share,” the tribute read. “Mark loved his friends and entertaining them with his antics. He had a special way of changing the energy of any room he was in.”

The St. Paul Police Federation (SPPF) described Officer Distel as a “great man who always treated people with kindness and the dignity they deserved.”

“Our hearts go out to his family and all who held him dear,” the SPPF said in a Facebook post.

Officer Distel leaves behind his wife, Heidi, and his daughter, Destiny, according to his obituary.

He is also survived by his mother, sister, and many friends and relatives.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of St. Paul Police Department Officer Mark Distel, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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