Officers Identified in St. James Convenience Store Shooting
ST. JAMES (AP) — The assistant police chief of the southern Minnesota city of St. James shot and killed a knife-wielding man at a convenience store after she and two other officers were unable to subdue him with Tasers, the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said.
Assistant Chief Rochelle Hanson fired the shots that killed 20-year-old Gilberto Salas, of Gaylord, the BCA said in a statement late Friday. The other officers involved were identified as State Trooper Jacob Ruppert and Sgt. Barry Gulden, of the Watonwan County Sheriff's Office.
According to the BCA, its preliminary investigation found that Salas was driving a vehicle that had been stolen in New Ulm when Nicollet County sheriff's deputies spotted it in Lafayette around 11:45 a.m. Wednesday. The BCA said he led officers from several agencies on a chase through Nicollet and Brown counties that reached speeds of 120 mph before they broke off the pursuit for safety reasons.
Officers spotted him around 1 p.m. in St. James, in Watonwan County, where he sped through residential neighborhoods at speeds estimated at 60 mph. After the vehicle became stuck a snowbank, the BCA said, Salas fled into Casey's General Store, leaving behind a female acquaintance who was not involved in the vehicle theft. The officers followed him inside.
Salas briefly shut himself in an office after Gulden shot him with his Taser, but he emerged about two minutes later carrying a knife, the BCA said. He ignored officers' commands to drop the knife, it said. Ruppert and Hanson both shot him with their Tasers. Hanson then opened fire with her gun when Salas then advanced on her.
Salas was pronounced dead at a St. James hospital of multiple gunshot wounds. BCA investigators recovered a knife from the floor next to where he fell, the statement said.
The store's surveillance cameras and Ruppert's Taser camera captured parts of the confrontation, but not the fatal shooting itself, the BCA said. The officers were not wearing body cameras and there is no squad car footage of the shooting, the agency said.
The assistant chief was treated and released for a minor injury to her left hand. All three officers were placed on standard administrative leave while the investigation continues.