Motorists and walkers scattered in terror Monday night as a gunman fired two bursts of bullets at passing vehicles near an Oakdale grocery store, killing a 10-year-old boy and wounding two other people.
The 33-year-old gunman, who was in police custody Monday night, began firing a handgun about 6:10 p.m. while standing in the street near Hadley Avenue N. and 7th Street N., said Oakdale police Capt. Jack Kettler.
At least two vehicles struck by bullets sped into the parking lot of the nearby Rainbow Foods at 7053 10th St. N. seeking help.
Kettler said the shootings appeared to be entirely random and the motive of the gunman, whose name was not released, was unclear.
"God only knows what motivates someone to do this," Kettler said. "It's happening way too often," he added, referring to recent random shootings across the country.
Residents of homes near the intersection of Hadley and 7th said they heard two bursts of gunfire, each consisting of four to six shots, about a minute apart.
"We have three victims that we know of at this time who received gunshot wounds," Kettler said late Monday. He said that other vehicles could have been struck by gunfire and their drivers may not know it yet.
Kettler would not say more about the victims, where they were shot or what vehicles they were in. They were taken to Regions Hospital, where one, a 68-year-old woman, was listed in good condition late Monday.
About 10 minutes after the shooting, the gunman was taken into custody by officers, who subdued him and retrieved the weapon, Kettler said. No one was hurt during the arrest.
A swarm of investigators from the Oakdale Police Department, Washington County and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension were at the scene late Monday. Some examined a van surrounded by crime tape in the Rainbow parking lot, but Kettler would not say whether that vehicle was the one the boy was in. An SUV with bullet marks parked about two blocks away was also being examined.
In addition, close to midnight, investigators appeared to be focusing on a residence in the 600 block of Guthrie, near the scene.
Oakdale Mayor Carmen Sarrack expressed shock and grief at the shootings, saying such events are rare in the east metro suburb.
"It's sick," said the mayor, thinking of his own five grandchildren. "What can you say when a 10-year-old is killed. ... You just feel so bad for the family. They were just out driving by on a February night. It's just a shame. People here are devastated that this could happen in our city, especially when the nation is grappling with gun control."
Jennifer McNeil, a spokeswoman for the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District, said school officials will have a crisis team, including social workers and psychologists, available for students on Tuesday.
She said she didn't know the name of the boy or whether he attended district schools. "This happened in our community, and we want to make sure we're prepared," McNeil said.