After reportedly twice facing gun, St. Paul officer fired at suspect

  • Article by: ANTHONY LONETREE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 20, 2012 - 7:12 AM

St. Paul police officer Brian Wanschura knew the suspect was armed, but still he gave chase, even after the 23-year-old man turned and pointed a gun at him, authorities say.

But Miguel Lorenzanovilla didn't pull the trigger. Instead, he jumped a fence bordering Interstate 94, and, as Wanschura tried to climb over, the officer temporarily got stuck in the barbs atop it. After the suspect had ignored orders to stop and twice turned toward Wanschura with gun in hand, the officer fired, striking Lorenzanovilla once in the buttocks, authorities say.

On Thursday, Lorenzanovilla, also known as Miguel Villa-Lorenzano, was charged in Ramsey County District Court with first-degree assault and second-degree assault -- accused of using or attempting to use deadly force against an officer.

"This case highlights the real threat that law enforcement is subjected to during the course of an investigation," county Attorney John Choi said in a news release.

The shooting occurred on Tuesday night as part of what had begun as a narcotics investigation.

About 5:30 p.m., the charges say, two vehicles -- a black Yukon and a white Chevrolet Impala -- were seen leaving a residence that investigators had been monitoring for suspected methamphetamine and marijuana trafficking.

As the vehicles headed south on Western Avenue, an investigator who was staking out the residence learned that a transaction involving a large amount of methamphetamine had occurred involving occupants of the Yukon. Police squad cars that were trailing the vehicles activated their lights near Dale Street and Concordia Avenue.

Lorenzanovilla and a second suspect fled on foot from the Yukon. The second suspect also was armed, according to police, but has not yet been charged.

Wanschura and Lorenzanovilla were on an entrance ramp to I-94 when the officer first noticed that the suspect was armed.

"He's got a gun! He's got a gun!" he yelled to a partner.

Lorenzanovilla ignored a command to stop before he pointed the gun at Wanschura and jumped the fence, the charges say.

Police said on Wednesday that several pounds of methamphetamine and marijuana were recovered from the Yukon.

Lorenzanovilla is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tuesday. He was booked into the county jail after being released from Regions Hospital and is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Anthony Lonetree • 612-875-0041

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