Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) — A woman is dead and an officer is on leave after a shooting on Interstate 394 Thursday afternoon.
Just after 1 p.m. Thursday a Golden Valley police officer attempted to pull a woman over near Interstate 394 and Highway 169. According to a police report, the woman was in possession of a handgun and the officer shot her. She died on scene. Traffic in the westbound lane was stopped for hours while police investigated.
“All the sudden we see cars flying off the on-ramps. They were going at least 90 miles an hour, just flying,” said witness Eric Gunderson.
For University of Minnesota students Eric Gunderson and Jeff Helseth, a trip to Plymouth to pick up a couch took a much different turn. While driving west on Interstate 394, police stopped them under the Hopkins Crossroad bridge. That’s when Gunderson said he heard a gunshot.
“More cops kept showing up. Everyone getting out was drawing guns,” said Gunderson. “If we would have left a minute and a half earlier we might have been right there with them,” said Helseth.
On the other side of the police cars and flashing lights, a woman lay dead.
According to Golden Valley Police, an officer had tried to pull her over in the westbound lane of 394. A police report said the woman had a gun and the officer shot her.
“We walked across the bridge and you could see a body laying next to a white Honda Civic with California plates. We don’t know if it was a traffic stop gone wrong,” said Gunderson.
Investigators are releasing few details other than to say the officer has been put on administrative leave, which is standard procedure. Information about who the woman was or what led to the shooting is not being released at this time. They are also not saying why they originally pulled the vehicle over.
For Gunderson and Helseth, a simple drive to the west suburbs turned into an afternoon they will never forget.
“My heart is still pounding three hours later. I’ve never seen anything like it except on TV,” said Helseth. Business owners near the scene said they heard multiple gun shots.
A Hennepin County Sheriff’s spokesperson said more details could be released Friday.
WCCO’s Dave Lee Interviews Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek