St. Paul police identify carjacking suspect killed in shootout

The suspect, 20, crashed into fence before commandeering SUV; died en route to the hospital.

A carjacking suspect shot and killed by St. Paul police over the weekend was identified by authorities Monday even as details about what led to the shooting remained unclear.

Yee Vang, 20, of St. Paul, died shortly after exchanging gunfire with police in the city’s Frogtown neighborhood about 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

Minutes earlier, Vang allegedly forced his way into a sport-utility vehicle after crashing his own vehicle into a fence outside Oakland Cemetery on the city’s North End.

Police identified Vang and the officers involved in the shooting during a news conference Monday. St. Paul Police spokesman Howie Padilla said the case was complex and that more than a dozen witnesses were interviewed.

A woman who lived on the North End and who witnessed Vang pulling out a gun said a friend was driving her 2-year-old son home when Vang struck their car. The woman who saw Vang pull the gun did not want to be identified because of concerns for her safety.

She said her friend was driving south on Jackson Street and turning left on E. Cook Avenue when Vang, who was also driving south, smashed into the driver side of her car and spun out. He then hit a fence at the Oakland Cemetery, she said.

After checking on her son, the woman went over to Vang’s car as he was getting out, the witness said. But Vang started running down the street and pulled a gun. He then pointed it at a man on a bicycle, she said.

Vang was able to steal the bike, but later fell off. He then pointed his gun at passing cars, the woman said she was told. The man from whom he took the bike, Gary Lesch, 72, of Forest Lake, confirmed to the Star Tribune that he was there but declined to make additional comment Monday.

At one point, Vang pointed a gun at a silver SUV, which stopped. He climbed into the back seat of the SUV and then rode off.

Police officers pursuing the vehicle attempted to make a traffic stop when the driver of the SUV stopped. Vang jumped out and started firing at officers, Padilla said. Officers returned fire and hit Vang, who died on the way to Regions Hospital.

The gunfire alarmed neighbors. A 14-year-old bystander also was injured, suffering a grazing would to his abdomen, according to another witness.

Police identified the officers involved in the shooting as Laura Finnegan, Dan Gleason, Xiong Yang and Shawn Filiowich. All are on standard leave.

Court records show that Vang pleaded guilty in June 2013 in Washington County to underage drinking. Vang’s criminal record did not include any other offenses.

“This could have been a much worse situation,” Padilla said.

Last week, police officers in St. Paul shot and wounded Brian Fitch Sr. during a manhunt following the shooting death of Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick.

 

Staff writers Chao Xiong and Anthony Lonetree contributed to this report. Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495

Twitter: @stribnorfleet

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