By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A man makes a plea to police to shoot him.

Officers say that recent mental health call only underscores a growing crisis.

It happened last Sunday in Eagan, when several shoppers spotted a man with a long knife in store parking lots around town.

Witnesses say he told them he was suicidal and wanted the cops to kill him.

WCCO looked into a troubling trend police departments are training to handle.

The search for the man started at about noon last Sunday from the Hy-Vee to the Home Depot. Worried witnesses called 911.

eagan man trying to provoke officers to shoot him Eagan Police Deal With Growing Mental Health Crisis

Eagan police encounter a man trying to provoke them to shoot him (credit: CBS)

“He is asking to be shot,” the dispatcher said over the radio.

It came to an end a half a mile away, thanks to an alert Eagan officer.

Her commands could be heard on the radio.

“He just rolled up next to me. Show me your hands,” she said.

“Our officer got out and looked into the car and the man was reaching for a knife,” said Eagan Police Chief James McDonald.

The officer knocked that knife away as several more officers arrived on scene. The man complied with commands.

“Given the amount of calls that we’ve had and the training that we’ve had and the experience that the officers have gotten, I think that contributed to a successful conclusion of the incident,” Chief McDonald said.

It is a scenario playing out far too often in Eagan, like another scene from last month. Someone passing by on a bike pulled a girl who was about to jump from an interstate fence just in time.

Mental health related calls are up more than 50 percent in seven years in Eagan, from 787 to 1,213 last year.

“You deal with people in crisis with trying to mediate and de-escalate,” McDonald said.

All officers went through crisis intervention training last year, and mental health patients themselves helped to teach part of it.

“Our role isn’t to get them into the criminal justice system, it’s to offer them some sort of help,” McDonald said.

Like what happened on Sunday. Police took the man to the hospital after some tense moments that could have ended much differently.

Another recent mental health case in Eagan had a different outcome. Police confronted a man shooting a gun in an apartment parking lot last summer.

The man then fired at police when they arrived. An officer returned fire and he was killed.

Text messages to his family members revealed he wanted to die in a shootout with police. A grand jury cleared the officer of any wrongdoing.

There is help available to anyone going through a mental health crisis.

More From WCCO | CBS Minnesota

Good Question
Best Of Minnesota
Excellent Educator

Watch & Listen LIVE