A St. Paul police officer fatally shot a man Thursday morning after witnesses say the man was aggressive towards the officers.
Police were called to the area of Plato Boulevard and Wabasha Street on St. Paul's west side before 7 a.m. Thursday after people reported an aggressive man with a pipe or rock was smashing car windows, reports say.
St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith told the Pioneer Press that when officers arrived, the man confronted them and ignored orders to stop.
"These callers were absolutely frantic," Smith said, according to KARE 11. "You don't have to have a firearm or a knife to hurt somebody. Our officers feared for their lives."
Witnesses told KSTP and the Star Tribune that the suspect was aggressive towards police, throwing rocks and punching the officers. The witnesses said the two police officers drew their weapons, and the suspect continued to be aggressive.
"One of the officers looked like he tried to grab him, almost had him," Kelsey Goergen, who works at nearby Grumpy Steve's Coffee Shop, told the Pioneer Press. She said the man was acting aggressively and it looked like he was trying to get away "and then changed his mind and he was kind of charging at them."
When the suspect began to charge the officer, the suspect was shot, a witness told WCCO.
Gabriel Lopez, a longtime cook from Joseph's Grill, nearby the scene, told the Star Tribune he heard “three or four shots" during the incident. Lopez said the suspect was running on Wabasha Street and fell to the ground.
No one else was injured in the incident. Police say the names of the suspect and officers involved will be released in the coming days. The officers are on administrative leave, which is standard.
Violence against officers
Earlier this month, there were three violent attacks on police officers in five days in the St. Paul area – incidents that speak to the dangers officers face on a daily basis throughout the nation, police said.
The first came when Mendota Heights officer Scott Patrick was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop in St. Paul. Brian Fitch Sr., who was wounded during a shootout with police hours after Patrick’s death, has been charged with the crime.
Two other incidents happened days later. A man, identified as 20-year-old Yee Vang, was fatally shot when he exchanged gunfire with St. Paul police after he allegedly carjacked a vehicle.
The third incident involved a struggle for an officer’s gun at a SuperAmerica. Anthony Nickson was charged with three counts of terroristic threats and two counts of trying to disarm an officer.