The Superior Express -

Fugitive from authorities shot, captured in Deweese

 

April 23, 2020



Residents of Nuckolls and Clay counties rarely experience anything close to what so many people watch on TV, or read about in the larger cities concerning crime, law enforcement and the outcome of such actions.

However, Thursday residents around the Deweese area lived through such an experience. From news reports on television and from the Hastings newspaper we put together the following summary.

Last Tuesday a resident of Hastings, Donald Blessing, age 45, a parolee, was in southwest Clay County near Deweese. A woman who was driving the vehicle, managed to escape from Blessing when they stopped in the country side. She drove to Hastings to report she was being forced by Blessing to accompany him against her will.

The report triggered a manhunt by law enforcement personnel from Adams, Clay, Nuckolls, Hamilton and Fillmore counties, several area towns and the Nebraska State Patrol. Searching Tuesday night and Wednesday turned up nothing.

On Thursday afternoon, Blessing was seen in Deweese. Lisa Hatfield, who works in the Down South Bar and Grill in Deweese received a phone call that Blessing was in Deweese. A call to 911 had already been made.

Hatfield reported she looked out the bar’s window and saw Blessing with a gun in his hand. She said the man raised he gun and fired once at officers. A law enforcement officer then fired twice and the man fell to the ground.

Deweese was quickly filled with law enforcement and medical personnel. Blessing was taken to the Hastings hospital and later transferred to a Lincoln hospital in critical condition.

According to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services website, Blessing was on parole from the Nebraska State Penitentiary where he had been serving a 23 to 42 year sentence for burglary, second-degree arson and theft by taking in Gage County. His sentence began in 2007 and he was released on parole Dec. 26, 2018.

True to small town hospitality, the Down South Bar and Grill provided 50 meals for the officers. Meals and water were distributed to the officers on scene. It was estimated that more than 100 law enforcement officers took part in the effort over the several days.

The last time such excitement took place in the border area of Nuckolls and Clay counties was approximately 15 years ago when several youth from a rehabilitation center escaped and ended up in the area. At that time, they found the home of Pat Himmelberg and hid there for some time before being captured. The only other prior experience this reporter can acknowledge in Deweese was a bank robbery over 100 years ago. And that he learned from reading old issues of newspapers.

 

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