A man shot a St. Paul officer in the leg and the officer returned fire, critically injuring the man on a busy street Thursday afternoon, according to police.
The shooting happened at Cretin and Marshall avenues just after 2 p.m., after a woman called 911 to report a man whom she has an order for protection against was following her. They were in separate vehicles, and she was trying to drive away from him.
The woman reported the man was intentionally driving his vehicle into her, that he was armed with a handgun, and he’d broken out a window of her vehicle, said Sgt. Mike Ernster, a St. Paul police spokesman. The man was driving a blue Chevrolet Impala and the woman was in a silver van, according to emergency radio dispatches.
A St. Paul officer confronted the man and the man shot him in the lower leg, Ernster said. The man shot by the officer has life-threatening injuries.
It was “a scary day for St. Paul,” Mayor Melvin Carter said at a Thursday evening press conference. “One of the most scary calls that a mayor can receive is that an officer has been injured by gunfire. … We are all breathing a sigh of relief that our officer is recovering. We are in prayer alongside the families of the involved individual. And we are committed, just like we are in any incident involving an officer-involved shooting, to the highest levels of transparency and accountability.”
The intensity of the situation in the Merriam Park neighborhood could be heard over the police radio as an officer relayed, “Officer shot, officer shot!”
The wounded officer shouted over the emergency radio: “The next squad that pulls up, you’re taking me to Regions!,” which is what happened. Hospital staff was waiting for him. He was treated and had been released from the hospital as of Thursday night.
Paramedics transported the injured man to Regions Hospital.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating. The officer who shot the man was wearing a body camera and the BCA will review the video as part of its investigation. The officer will be placed on administrative leave, which is standard practice.
The woman was not injured, though Police Chief Axel Henry drew attention Thursday to domestic violence and noted there have been six such homicides in St. Paul this year.
“Our officers get called to these situations — when they’re asked for help, they’re going to respond,” he said. “No one in our community, particularly our officers, wants things to turn out this way.”
The police union said the officer is “doing well.”
“There are heroes among us,” said Mark Ross, St. Paul Police Federation president. “He’s one of them.”
The last time an officer was shot in St. Paul was in 2015 when an officer was wounded in the face by a man who fired an air-pellet gun. The time before that occurred in 2012 when a St. Paul officer was shot in the back and saved by his bullet-resistant vest, but another blast from a shotgun shredded his arm.
The previous shooting by a St. Paul officer was in February, when Yia Xiong was killed in a hallway outside his apartment near West Seventh Street. The BCA has said Xiong, 65, was holding a 16-inch knife. His family and community members have been waiting for prosecutors to make a charging decision, and they’ve said they want the officers involved to be charged.
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