Death of Sioux Falls man who had medical emergency at bar now being investigated as homicide

Shane Birger, 43, experienced a medical emergency at a Sioux Falls bar in October. His death in November has been declared a homicide, police announced Wednesday.


SIOUX FALLS — An October incident at a Sioux Falls bar is now being investigated as a homicide by the Sioux Falls Police Department.

On Oct. 27, 2022, first responders were called to the Gateway Lounge, near the intersection of West 41st Street and Interstate 29, for a report of a male who was having trouble breathing.

Shane Birger, 43, of Sioux Falls, was taken to a Sioux Falls hospital for treatment. Two weeks later, on Nov. 10, 2022, Birger died at Sanford Medical Center. It's unclear whether Birger was released and later re-admitted to the hospital, as Clemens said the police department doesn't receive regular updates regarding patient status.

On Wednesday, Jan. 11, Sioux Falls police spokesman Sam Clemens said the Minnehaha County Coroner determined Birger’s cause of death was homicide as a result of a physical altercation, leaving police to piece together a mysterious puzzle.

“We didn’t know if there had been some fight, if he fell or if there was some type of medical event,” police spokesman Sam Clemens said. “Ultimately, once he was in the hospital, he ended up dying from his injuries.”


During a regular news briefing in 2022, police had indicated that investigators at one point believed Birger’s injuries could have been the result of a fight. One unnamed individual was spoken to by police regarding the possibility of a fight, but no charges were ever filed.

“There was a little bit of confusion over exactly what happened, so [a fight] is where we started that investigation, basically just because we didn't know what happened — if there had been some kind of incident or if it was medical,” Clemens clarified on Wednesday. “That initial call, things were kind of confusing and we didn’t have a clear picture of what happened.”

Clemens said that detectives with the Sioux Falls Police Department have been making headway on the case and have interviewed nearly everyone who might have seen what took place on Oct. 27. He was unaware if any surveillance cameras may have been in use.

No arrests have been made in connection with the homicide. Anyone with information should call the Sioux Falls Police Department at 605-367-7212.

Correction: Birger's medical emergency was on Oct. 27, 2022. An earlier version of this story had the wrong date. It has been corrected.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on local news in Sioux Falls. He also writes regional news spanning across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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