Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

'This place could've burned over a lie': St. Cloud police chief furious over social media rumors

False information led to some residents thinking police had shot and killed a teenager.
Author:
Blair Anderson, St. Cloud police

St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson. 

The non-lethal arrest of an 18-year-old in St. Cloud just after midnight Monday was misreported all over social media as a fatal officer-involved shooting, leading to a large crowd marching toward police headquarters in the middle of the night. 

The true story, rather, was that officers were alerted to someone with a handgun in the 1000 block of 18th Ave., and on arrival the officers pursued the suspect on foot before a physical struggle ensued and the suspect shot an officer in the hand, according to St. Cloud PD. 

Neither officer involved in the arrest returned fire, and they were able to detain the suspect without using deadly force. Despite the situation being resolved within about 15 minutes, the misinformation spread rapidly on social media, leading to a crowd of about 100 marching toward police headquarters. 

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 9.55.34 AM

During the march, numerous properties were damaged, including the police station, which was pelted with rocks. 

"Things can get blasted all over creation right now and it is very reckless, in my opinion, it is very dangerous. This is the kind of thing that could have escalated, and I am deeply concerned about that kind of stuff," said Police Chief Blair Anderson. 

"I'm deeply concerned that if we continue to alienate, there's going to be a lot of good police officers that are going to walk away and we're going to be in a lot of trouble. We really truly are." 

Anderson referred to social media as a "demon" on multiple occasions, adding that he "might be the only person left on the planet that hasn't been on Facebook. 

A tweet that has since been deleted was captured by Heavy.com. It read: "POLICE INVOLVED SHOOTING IN ST CLOUD RN …. reports saying one person is dead," with another tweet from the same account later saying police had shot and killed a 15-year-old. 

"It is abhorrent to me that within minutes the story that went out, went out. This place could've been on fire over a lie. Not just some misinformation, not just a few facts here and here. It was flat out untrue," he said. 

It's not clear which media outlet reported the misinformation, but Anderson said false reports based on social media nonsense have become commonplace. 

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

"It's not the first time it's happened to us. In my 8 years here, I can't tell you how many times and how many days we've spent debunking myths that started on the social media platform," he said. "They're scary. They get certain segments of our community whipped into a frenzy, some of them flat out in fear and it's just not true." 

The officer who was shot in the hand – a 14-year veteran of the force – underwent surgery Monday morning and was in good spirits, the chief said. The suspect suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital. 

Multiple charges against the 18-year-old are pending.

It should be noted that for Anderson's criticism of social media in this instance, it was a bystander's recording and the subsequent social media uproar that led to accountability in the death of George Floyd, about which Minneapolis Police Department initially issued a misleading press release.

Next Up

Mikko Koivu

Wild to retire Mikko Koivu's No. 9 jersey

Koivu will be the first player in franchise history to have his number retired.

Boebert-Omar - Flickr Gage Skidmore

Rep. Boebert refuses to apologize for Islamophobic comment toward Rep. Omar

A phone call Monday between the two lawmakers ended abruptly.

Patrick Peterson

Vikings place Patrick Peterson on COVID-19/reserve list

The Vikings cornerback said he was vaccinated in August.

flickr - thin ice warning - USFWS Midwest

'Numerous' reports of eager anglers falling through ice

Conditions are still unpredictable, and can vary even across a single body of water.

covid

Minnesota health officials watching closely for omicron variant

Health leaders do not yet know how transmissible or severe the new variant is.

school bus stop pixabay

School bus driver charged in fatal hit-and-run will plead guilty

Another motorist told the driver to call 911, but he instead got on the bus and drove off, charges say.

Franconia Sculpture Park - Lorie Shaull - Flickr

5 outdoor destinations to explore around the Twin Cities

There's something for everyone on this list of overlooked spots.

Child mental health counseling

As pandemic continues, so do efforts to improve child mental health access

Children's Minnesota has announced it will open its first inpatient mental health facility for under 18s.

Dalvin Cook

Mixed reports on Dalvin Cook's injury status

The Vikings running back could miss two games...or he could play Sunday.

Tanner Morgan

Tanner Morgan returning to Gophers for 6th season

Two Gopher QBs have already entered the transfer portal.

Allina Health Richfield - 407 W 66th St, Richfield, Minnesota - June 2019 - CROP

Charges: Clinic locked down after man tried to enter, threatened passersby

Staff at the clinic suspected he was intoxicated, according to the complaint.

covid, vaccine

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, November 29

The state's latest report includes data from the Thanksgiving break.

Related

St. Cloud

2nd night of unrest in St. Cloud results in vandalism, looting, fires

The Granite City has had consecutive nights of large, unruly crowds after a police incident.

George Floyd, protests, rioting, Minneapolis, Lake Street

Brainerd teacher resigns after posting racist comments on social media

The teacher posted offensive comments on Facebook over the weekend.

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 7.11.05 AM

Police: 9-year-old boy shot in St. Cloud Saturday night

The shot was fired around 8:20 p.m., police said.

minneapolis police

MPD addresses 'widespread rumors' about Halloween homicide

Police say misinformation has led to threats and harassment.