Saint Cloud police have preliminarily determined that a man who died by suicide after fleeing officers had earlier punched a mall employee in the face on Wednesday.
According to a release from St. Cloud Police Department, an assault at a store in the mall was reported at 11:41 a.m., with an officer who responded determining that one of three males together at the store stole an item. When a store employee attempted to take a photo of them, the employee was punched in the face, causing visible injuries.
Less than 20 minutes later, a deputy with the Stearns County Sheriff's Office stopped a person who matched the description of the suspect on the 10 block of Waite Ave. in Waite Park.
The suspect first lied about his identity, only to have authorities learn his name and realize that there was a felony warrant for his arrest for a prior felon in possession of a firearm violation. At 12:29 p.m., officers told the suspect that he was being arrested, at which point he ran.
Officers lost sight of the suspect, but after setting up a perimeter they used a K90 to track him down in a shed on the 10 block of Cherry Street in Waite Park. While police were approaching the shed, they heard a single gunshot.
The suspect was found inside the shed having suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was treated at the scene but died after being transported by ambulance to St. Cloud Hospital.
Police say, citing surveillance video from the mall, that the suspect who died by suicide appears be the same person who punched the store employee in the face.
The suspect's identity will be released at a later stage by the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office, while the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension leads the investigation.
Note: Details provided in this story are based on the police's version of events, and may be subject to change.