COLUMBIA HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) — Columbia Heights police are searching for the armed intruder who followed an elderly man into his home, then robbed and shot him.
It happened around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday evening, as the 76-year-old widower was bringing groceries in from his car that was parked in his driveway.
Investigators were going door to door Wednesday morning, searching back yards and garbage cans.
Anoka County Sheriff’s Department Cmdr. Paul Sommer says it was dark outside when Paul Turner pulled into his driveway and brought groceries into the kitchen.
“It’s a pretty brazen and violent act,” Sommer said.
Turner was about to go back outside to his parked van to get his luggage from a trip he had just taken. That is when a lone gunman surprised him as he stood in his kitchen.
When Turner put his hands up, he was shot in the wrist and leg.
The intruder then rifled through Turner’s pockets as he was prone on the floor and grabbed his wallet.
“They just walk in through their automatic garage door into their house, and before, you know, they can even turn around and close the garage door, there’s someone inside committing a robbery,” Sommer said.
Brian Gerdin lives down the street from where the home invasion occurred and says crime rarely visits this quiet neighborhood.
“I think that everybody kind of feels the same way. It’s kind of like this stuff kind of happens randomly in places,” Gerdin said. “Are you going to be any safer the next day?”
Babysitter Joanne Mortensen says neighbors are frightened that a gun was used in the crime.
“They’re really scared about this,” Mortensen said.
She says folks in the neighborhood will be much more vigilant by securing garage doors and locking all entries.
That was something Turner did not yet have the chance to do when he was so suddenly attacked.
“They’re going to be extra cautious on this deal, until they catch the guy at least,” Mortensen said.
Anyone with information about the crime is asked to contact the Criminal Investigations Division of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office at 763-323-5000.