Twice in one day, police shoot at suspects in unrelated cases

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 30, 2007 - 11:36 PM

The chief notes that officers are seeing more guns pointed at them.

Minneapolis police officer Tony Adams was working on a problem property on the city's North Side about noon Monday when a man pointed a sawed-off shotgun at his marked squad car, setting off a chase and an exchange of gunfire. Three hours later, Sgt. Bill Blake shot at two would-be robbers at a Northeast bar.

It was the third time in 10 days that officers pulled the trigger as someone raised a gun toward them. Chief Tim Dolan noted a growing number of gun-pointing cases.

"Officers are well aware there have been more of these types of incidents," he said. "This is not a game for them."

The three cases in 10 days stand in contrast to each of the past two years, when seven Minneapolis officers fired at people, according to a recent report about the Police Department's use of force.

In five of those cases, someone died.

Monday's chase involving Adams easily could have ended with multiple victims, said Fourth Precinct Inspector Lee Edwards.

Adams, parked at 12th and Upton Avenues N., heard shots nearby and two male suspects with guns came around a corner. One pointed his shotgun at Adams. The officer fired several times.

The suspects jumped into a car driven by a woman, Edwards said. During the ensuing chase, shots were fired by the suspects and Adams shot out the car's back window.

Adams pursued the car as the male suspects continued to point their guns at him. The car stopped at Washburn and Plymouth Avenues N., where one suspect got out, pointed his sawed-off shotgun at Adams and fled. Then Adams arrested the other suspect and the woman in the car.

Not only did he find a gun in the car, but he found a baby strapped into a car seat, Edwards said. Adams couldn't see the child through the car's tinted windows, Edwards said.

"That really rattled him," he said.

The other suspect was arrested a short time later, and police found a gun belonging to him. More and more, Edwards said, officers are running into suspects who "just don't give a crap."

Tom Walsh, spokesman for the St. Paul Police Department, said his department hasn't observed an increase in gun-pointing incidents this year.

Lunch, with action

As Minneapolis officers and crime lab technicians were investigating the North Side shooting, two gunmen were attempting to rob Legends Bar & Grill at 825 E. Hennepin Av. about 3:30 p.m. The men had gone into a restroom and put on ski masks, said Deputy Chief Rob Allen.

By chance, Sgt. Bill Blake was at the bar with his cousin Steve Blake, a member of Minneapolis' Police Community Relations Council. Bill Blake was on duty and in plain clothes.

Steve Blake, who is also chairman of the Twin Cities American Indian Movement patrol, said he and his cousin always sit facing the door when they go out.

When the men came out of the restroom yelling at the 15 customers and employees "to give it up," Bill Blake was already crouched in a stance, with his gun pointing at the would-be robbers, Steve Blake said.

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