A man threatening suicide pointed a gun at police and then died from a gunshot wound during a confrontation with Burnsville police, authorities said Tuesday.
The shooting occurred shortly before 9:30 p.m. Monday outside the apartment complex in the 1600 block of E. Cliff Road, where the man had been inside, police said in a statement.
“A Burnsville officer fired shots and the individual is deceased,” the statement read, leaving it unclear whether an officer killed the man or whether he took his own life. A spokeswoman for the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), which is investigating the incident, declined Tuesday morning to address that aspect of the encounter.
Officers were told about an hour earlier that the man “had threatened suicide” and later left the building with a gun, the statement read.
Police on the ground and a trooper in a State Patrol helicopter with heat sensors helped one another track down the man. The chopper identified a moving heat source in a tree line near the complex, the statement continued.
“The object is moving,” a trooper in the helicopter told officers on the ground, according to police scanner dispatches at the time. “It’s a person in there.”
Seconds later, an officer said, “He’s got a gun ... shots fired.”
The police statement said that one officer fired his weapon. Police have yet to identify the suspect or the officer who fired.
One officer said over the scanner after the man was shot that “the suspect rolled over and dropped something, and now it looks like he’s laying on top of it.”
At one point after the shooting, one officer said, “He pointed the gun at us.”
Officers were wearing body cameras at the time of the shooting, the statement noted. No officers were harmed during the incident.
One officer was placed on leave, said the BCA spokeswoman.
Police forces across the country are re-evaluating their practices regarding encounters with people with mental health difficulties. In Minneapolis, officials recently announced a pilot program that would have police officers be paired with mental health specialists on emergency calls involving such problems.
The program will start next year and is already in used in Houston, Los Angeles and Madison, Wis. The goal is to find more peaceful resolutions to these types of encounters.
This was the second fatal shooting involving a Burnsville officer this year. On March 17, officers shot and killed 38-year-old Map Kong after he allegedly brandished a knife when he was confronted by police in a McDonald’s parking lot off Hwy. 13 and Washburn Avenue.
The officers involved in that killing were cleared by a grand jury of any wrongdoing.
The March incident was the first officer-involved shooting resulting in death in Burnsville since 1981.
Staff writer Tim Harlow contributed to this report.