July 19, 2018 10:19 PM
The Dakota County Sheriff's Department reported the suspect in the shooting of two South St. Paul police officers was booked into Dakota County Jail Thursday night and is being held on suspicion of attempted murder.
The sheriff's department confirmed the man's identity as Dustin Allen Bilderback of South St. Paul. He has not yet been officially charged.
Meanwhile, South St. Paul Police Chief William Messerich confirmed Thursday night that the officer who had been taken to the hospital after being struck in the shoulder had been released from the hospital.
He was one of the two officers shot after responding to what started out as a return of a missing person call early Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie said in a press conference held at South St. Paul City Hall later Thursday afternoon that one officer was struck in the shoulder and the other was struck near the leg.
The officer struck in the shoulder was taken to the hospital, but neither injury was considered life-threatening.
Thursday night, Messerich said both officers were home with loved ones recovering.
Leslie said one of the officers was an 11-year veteran. The other was a six-year veteran. The names of the officers have not yet been released. They have been placed on standard administrative leave.
At the press conference Messerich said the incident began as a phone call regarding a missing person who had returned. The person the officers were speaking to was said to have sounded distraught. The call ended abruptly, and officers responded to the scene. An altercation ensued, and the suspect reportedly obtained a shotgun and began shooting.
Messerich said officers returned fire, but the suspect was not harmed. The gun was eventually dropped, and the suspect was taken into custody.
"Our situation had the possibility of a much more tragic outcome than it did," he said. "We're grateful the injuries to our officers were not any worse than they are."
The Dakota County Sheriff's Department is investigating the matter. Leslie said the department was in the process of interviewing witnesses, gathering evidence and taking photographs. He said he expects the information gathered could be presented to the Dakota County Attorney's Office as soon as Friday.
He described the residence to which officers responded - located on the 500 block of 12th Avenue North - as group residential housing offering support services.
Multiple other law enforcement agencies provided assistance in the incident.
Witnesses all down the block heard the gunfire.
"I heard a couple of bangs," said Barbarah Christophersen, who lives down the street.
"At first I thought firecrackers went off because it was so rapid," said Norm Quast.
One woman told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that she called 911 after hearing the first round of gunfire.
"I ran for my cell phone, looked out the window and I didn't see anything but then I heard four more rounds of shots and by that time the 911 operator was there and said, 'Are you on 12th Avenue North?' and I said yes and he goes, 'Get down, get to the lowest part of the house,'" said Teresa Roussin, who lives nearby.
Police said they've responded to this group residential home where the suspect lives 62 times already this year, and made 110 visits the year before.
"That apartment building has been known to be trouble," Christophersen said.
"This is my neighborhood, I hate it," said Bryan Smythe, a neighbor who heard the gunfire.
"I don't even like to leave my house, it's scary," Roussin said.
The community is grateful that both officers who were shot are going to be okay, but still on edge nonetheless.
"Things are deteriorating badly when they start shooting policemen," Quast said. "I would hate to say that a policeman in my community was killed."
Frank Rajkowski & Brett Hoffland
Updated: July 19, 2018 10:19 PM
Created: July 19, 2018 08:46 PM
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