MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Authorities in central Minnesota say a man suspected of theft and assault in a mall Wednesday fatally shot himself after running away from police officers.
The St. Cloud Police Department says the theft and assault occurred Wednesday morning at a store inside the Crossroads Center shopping mall. Three men were allegedly involved in the theft, and one of them punched a worker in the face as they tried to take a photo of the suspects.
The men ran out of the mall, which is located in Waite Park, and minutes later responding officers found a man who appeared to be one of the suspects. The man initially gave officers a false name, police say. When the officers discovered his real identity, they learned he had a warrant for being a felon in possession of a gun.
Officers told the man he was under arrest, and he immediately ran off. While officers gave chase, they couldn’t keep up and lost sight of him. Officers called a K-9 unit to help in the search.
About 20 minutes later, the K-9 led officers to a shack behind a home on the 10 Block of Cherry Street. When officers were approaching the building, they heard a gunshot. Inside, they found the man suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
No officers fired their weapons, police say. A handgun was recovered from the shed.
Emergency crews brought the man to St. Cloud Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His name has yet to be released, and an autopsy is pending.
According to police, surveillance video from inside the mall showed that the man in the shed was the person who attacked the store worker.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was called to investigate. Officers in the St. Cloud Police Department do not wear body cameras.
This incident comes about a month after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, a Black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. The officer was fired from the department and now faces murder charges.
Floyd’s death sparked protests and riots in cities across the country. St. Cloud also experienced nights of unrest after an incident earlier this month where it was rumored that two Black teens were shot by officers.
According to the city’s police chief, however, that was nothing but a social media rumor. What actually happened, police say, is that an officer was shot in the hand while trying to arrest a teenager with a gun.