A police officer shot and killed a man who apparently rammed a police squad car Sunday night in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood.
St. Paul police said one of its officers was involved in the shooting around 5:50 p.m. near the intersection of Thomas Avenue West and North Griggs Street. Police said the officer was not injured.
The shooting comes as police grapple with what Police Chief Todd Axtell last week called a stretch of unprecedented violence in the city. He mobilized his entire department and put beefed-up patrols on the streets.
At the scene Sunday night, a car with a heavily damaged front end sat directly behind the cruiser.
Earlier, a voice was heard over emergency dispatch audio saying: “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!”
“Shots fired! Shots fired!” the same voice then said. “One has been shot.”
A police officer said his squad was rear-ended by another vehicle moments before the “drop the knife” order was given and the subsequent gunfire, according to the audio.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was on the scene; St. Paul police said additional information would be released later.
Into the evening, a handful of activists walked along the police tape, filming live feeds and encouraging people to demand to see body camera footage.
Ron Sanderson stood on his front steps looking out at the scene.
“Like anything, this could have happened anywhere,” he said. “I saw the [police] lights and honestly assumed it was just a traffic stop at first.”
The incident comes in the wake of a nine-hour stretch of violence early last week that unfolded across three different neighborhoods and took three lives, including a man trying to act as a good Samaritan. At a news conference with Mayor Melvin Carter and community leaders Tuesday, Axtell called the fatal shootings shocking and outrageous.
Five additional officers are now patrolling each shift. Investigators are pivoting to gun violence cases, and reserve officers and St. Paul’s Law Enforcement Career Path Academy are knocking on doors and talking to residents.
“It’s an all-hands-on-deck moment for the Police Department,” spokesman Steve Linders said last week. “The goal is to be seen and to restore a sense of security.”
Sunday night’s fatal shooting is the 189th officer-involved fatality in Minnesota since 2000. Four officer-involved shootings have occurred this summer alone. Most recently, Brian Quinones, 30, was fatally shot on Sept. 7 in an incident involving officers from Edina and Richfield.
A few officials left the Unite Against Gun Violence vigil at 6 p.m. Sunday to respond to the shooting, which was about 3.5 miles away. The vigil brought about three dozen people, many of whom shared stories of how they’d personally been affected by gun violence in St. Paul.
Dora Jones-Robinson led the group in prayer, pleading for no gun deaths in 2020.
“It’s our responsibility,” she said. “The more visible we are, the more we can make sure gun violence stops.”
Darlene Walsh has been attending similar rallies and vigils for the past two years, since her then 10-year-old grandson witnessed a shooting just outside her home near Front and Western Avenues. Her grandson is still afraid to play in her yard, she said.
Another young girl at the vigil quietly told the group gathered around her about seeing men trade guns near her home and about her uncle, who was recently shot and killed.
Walsh and her neighbor, Lynn Connolly, both said they’d hoped to see more people at the event but it attracted more than they’d seen at previous vigils.
“This is a right-now crisis,” Connolly said. “We are standing together to say ‘no more.’ ”