A gunman chased a woman through a Cottage Grove strip mall Thursday, eventually killing her in a sandwich shop before shooting himself. He died late Thursday.
Bystanders watched in horror as the woman ran through the parking lot as the man repeatedly fired at her, shattering the glass door of the Anytime Fitness gym, where the woman apparently had been exercising.
Cottage Grove police were called about 3:35 p.m. to the mall in the 7700 block of Harkness Avenue S. after receiving reports of shots being fired, said Craig Woolery, the city's director of public safety. When they arrived, they found the woman dead inside a Jimmy John's shop. The shooter was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where he died within hours. No one else was hurt.
The dead man is Chevel Richard, 22, according to his father, Dale Richard.
"My boy is dead," Dale Richard said after talking to Cottage Grove police late Thursday.
Also dead, Dale Richard said, is Tensia Richard, Chevel's wife.
"They're both gone. She's deceased, and so is he," Dale Richard said, adding the couple had two young sons, a 3-year-old and a 5-month-old.
Steven Mack had been in the fitness center working out Thursday and was in a locker room changing, getting ready to head to the Vikings game. He heard a popping noise and screams that grew increasingly louder.
"I actually thought somebody had dropped some weights down in the gym," he said. About half a dozen people were in the club at the time, Mack said, and some were panicked. He never saw the woman or the man, but surmised that the man had been waiting for her in the parking lot. "Other people said he was chasing her around my truck and shooting at her," Mack said.
Mark Daly, a spokesman for Anytime Fitness, said the club's manager was one of several people who called police. "Nobody with a gun was ever inside Anytime Fitness," he said. There are several surveillance cameras inside the club and at least one outside, he added.
Video footage from outside the gym shows the woman walking into the frame followed by a man with a gun. The man "appears to surprise her" because she starts to move away quickly, Daly said.
The man fires, and the bullet goes through the fitness club's door. That's when she starts to run toward the Jimmy John's with the man chasing her, Daly said.
The video footage was being turned over to police.
"We're operating with very limited information," Jimmy John's corporate office said in a statement. "We are cooperating with the appropriate authorities investigating the case. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims. We are shocked and saddened by this tragic event."
The strip mall is at the busy intersection of Hwy. 61 and 80th Street S. It is near, but not in the heart of, the city's busiest shopping area.
"This happened in the middle of the afternoon in front of a lot of people," Woolery said, but he said there was no lingering threat to the public. "This event is over, and it was over quickly," he said.
Woolery said figuring out what happened between the couple is just one of many questions to be answered. Witnesses shaken from their routines also had questions.
"Why do people do what they do?"" Mack said.
Police were expected to release more information about the incident Friday morning.