St. Paul police responding to a 911 call about shots fired in an apartment early Sunday shot and killed a man, the third fatal police shooting in the Twin Cities metro this summer.
The caller said someone was firing in the second-story unit of a faded yellow house in the 900 block of St. Anthony Avenue, a stretch of scruffy lawns and older homes separated from Interstate 94 by a chain-link fence covered with late-summer greenery.
Police provided the barest outline: Officers arrived about 2:30 a.m. and two fired and fatally shot an armed man. The two officers were wearing body cameras that were activated and the footage has been turned over to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), which is conducting the investigation.
"The investigation is in its very early stages," said BCA spokeswoman Jill Oliveira.
Neither the victim nor the officers were identified, and police did not say if the shooting took place inside or out.
No officers were injured nor were any bystanders. The victim was pronounced dead on the scene.
On the block in the city's historic Rondo neighborhood Sunday morning, no one seemed to have heard anything overnight. Residents said they learned of the shooting when they woke to yellow crime scene ribbon in their yards and police cars blocking off vehicle and pedestrian traffic at either end of the stretch between Milton and Victoria streets. A large BCA van remained parked throughout the day in front of the multiunit house where the man was killed.
When the truncated 911 call came in, numerous officers responded because an active shooter inside a residence would be among the "highest concerns we have," said police spokesman Sgt. Mike Ernster.
The last officer-involved shooting in St. Paul occurred 10 months ago. But just last week, two Minneapolis officers were found to have been justified in using deadly force in the June 23 shooting of Thurman Blevins on the city's North Side.
Carter: A tragedy for city
Mayor Melvin Carter, who was on the scene early Sunday, later issued a written statement, calling the shooting "a tragedy for our entire city."
Carter, who grew up in and represented the area where the shooting occurred when he was on the City Council, said he is "working closely with Chief [Todd] Axtell and the BCA to ensure a thorough, transparent and timely investigation, including the release of the bodycam footage as soon as possible."
Traditionally, footage is withheld from the public until the BCA investigation is complete, something that can take months. But in the recent Minneapolis shooting, Mayor Jacob Frey pushed for and got the footage released a week ago Sunday, five weeks after the shooting.
Ernster did say police had been called to the residence nine times in the last year, for what he described as mostly "run-of-the-mill" calls. He did not say whether a weapon was found at the scene, saying any additional information would come from the BCA.
The officers involved have been put on standard paid administrative leave.
Neighbors: Area is quiet
Neighbors and visitors quietly walked the perimeter of the scene, mostly chatting among each other about what might have happened, but none indicated they knew the residents. Traffic was occasionally sticky with cars trying to navigate detours.
But for the ever-persistent thrum from the busy interstate, neighbors say the area tends to be quiet.
A couple of visitors set up chairs on a corner, bringing strawberries, water and goldfish crackers for snacks. One of the women described their purpose as "just showing up." She declined to provide her name.
Some stopped by to voice anger and frustration about ongoing violence involving law enforcement. Without specific evidence, some complained openly about lies and coverups.
Earlier, Malik Hollman, 14, walked through the alley from his house halfway down the next block. He said he's lived in the neighborhood among friends and family for years and feels safe. Like everyone else, he said he didn't know anyone who lived in the house where the shooting occurred.
"It's not a common thing at all," he said of the violence. "This is the first time there's been a killing around here."
'Tough for police officers'
In a phone interview, Council Member Dai Thao, who represents the area, echoed much of what Carter said about the shooting being a city tragedy.
"It's tough for the police officers. They go out every day and protect the community and try to win the trust of people then they get put in these situations," Thao said.
Although the neighborhood has a high concentration of poverty, Thao pointed out city investments going on nearby on University Avenue and a half-mile away with the new Allianz Field.
Thao wasn't aware of a timeline for the investigation or release of bodycam footage, but said, "I'm curious about that, too. I think the public wants to know that."
The 4,800-square-foot multifamily property in the Summit-University neighborhood is owned by a limited liability corporation managed by David Busch of St. Paul, according to documents filed with Ramsey County and with the Minnesota Secretary of State's office.
Busch didn't return a call to his St. Paul home.
Recent police shootings
Sunday's incident is the third fatal shooting by law enforcement this summer.
In July, Carver County sheriff's deputies shot Archer Amorosi, 16, several times after a standoff outside his parents' Chanhassen home. He died at the scene. A preliminary investigation said he had a handgun-style BB gun and hatchet when he was shot.
Body cameras and dash-camera video from one of the five responding agencies may have recorded portions of the incident, according to the BCA.
In Minneapolis in June, two white Minneapolis police officers shot and killed Blevins, who was black and armed with a handgun, after a brief chase on foot in north Minneapolis.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said last week that the officers would not face charges.