WOODBURY, Minn. (WCCO) —One person is dead and several others hurt after a standoff at an early Friday morning incident at the Red Roof Motel off Valley Creek Road in Woodbury.
When police arrived sometime after 1:10 a.m., they say they found a man, later identified as 24-year-old Demetrius Santrell Ballinger, of Maplewood, holding about a dozen people hostage. Ballinger (pictured) is currently in jail.
Witnesses say several people were having a party in one of the rooms on the second floor, when one of the party-goers pulled out a gun. Nineteen-year-old Mark Henderson of St. Paul was one of the people at the party.
His mother, Tawana, said she got a text from Mark earlier in the night saying everything was OK. She then got another call around 5 a.m. from one of his friends, saying Mark was dead and that police had shot him.
“I’m upset with the police,” Tawana Henderson said. “Because the person who was supposed to save my son turned out to be the people who killed my son.”
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the death of Henderson, saying he died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Criminal Bureau of Apprehension (BCA).
The BCA said in a statement released Friday evening that a preliminary investigation found that when officers arrived at the hotel room they encountered a man who pointed a gun at them. It is not clear if that man was Ballinger. After seeing the man, officers moved back and yelled for assistance. It was then that officers heard a gunshot, the room’s door open and saw Henderson quickly leave the room and come towards them.
Officers told the BCA that they thought Henderson was armed and “non-compliant with officer commands.” Officers then shot at Henderson.
No weapon was recovered from his body, the BCA said.
“It’s a very complex crime scene that transpired early this morning,” said Drew Evans with the BCA. “It’s going to take us some time to sort out exactly what transpired.”
The preliminary investigation also showed that Ballinger fired the original shots inside the hotel room. The BCA said Ballinger refused to leave the room or let seven hostages go.
When the Washington County SWAT Team arrived at the scene, it successfully negotiated with Ballinger and he surrendered. He was taken into custody shortly before 5 a.m. and is now booked in the Washington County Jail on suspicion of first-degree sexual conduct, robbery and kidnapping. He is expected to be charged early next week.
Officials say there were several weapons in the room, but Henderson’s family says that’s not the case.
Now the Hendersons want answers from police.
“He definitely didn’t deserve to die like that,” Tanawa Henderson said.
All three officers who fired at the scene will be placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure for officer-involved shootings.
The BCA identified the officers as Anthony Ofstead, Stacey Krech and Natalie Martin. All three work for the Woodbury Police Department. Ofstead is an 11-year veteran, Krech has worked at the department for five years, and Martin has worked at there for two years.
More details will be available when Ballinger is charged, the BCA said.
Ballinger’s victims have yet to be identified.
The incident is still under investigation.