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Police blocked traffic on Ayd Mill Road as they looked for evidence. The robbery suspect was the third man fatally shot by St. Paul police since October.

Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

Police kill St. Paul robbery suspect

  • Article by: KEVIN DUCHSCHERE and PAUL WALSH
  • Star Tribune staff writers
  • December 17, 2012 - 8:22 PM

St. Paul police shot and killed a man Monday who they said fled after holding up a grocery store at gunpoint in the city's typically peaceful Macalester-Groveland neighborhood.

The Brooklyn Park man, whose name police expected to release Tuesday, died late Monday morning at Regions Hospital after being wounded by at least one St. Paul officer following the robbery at Kowalski's Market, 1261 Grand Av.

He is the third man to die after being shot by St. Paul police since October.

Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Paulos said the robber pointed a gun at people in the store about 8:30 a.m., took an undisclosed amount of money from clerks and ran out the loading dock behind the store, where two officers saw him and gave chase.

Shots were fired as the officers followed the man down a wooded slope to Ayd Mill Road, Paulos said. He declined to say whether the man fired at the officers, citing the ongoing investigation.

Paramedics took the man to Regions, where he later died.

Police blocked traffic on Ayd Mill Road between Hamline and St. Clair Avenues for a time Monday morning as investigators scoured the area for evidence.

Kowalski's employees were evacuated from the store for a short time after the robbery, and those who witnessed it were sent home. No one in the store was harmed, said Mike Oase, vice president of operations for Kowalski's.

One employee, who identified herself only as Sharon, said she was stocking an aisle when the incident occurred but didn't know it because it happened so quietly.

She said police responded quickly. Kowalski's often stations a uniformed off-duty police officer near checkout lanes in the evenings and on weekends, but no officer was in the store Monday morning.

Sharon said the incident made her angry. Thinking of Friday's mass shooting in Connecticut, she said, "You don't feel safe. I have nothing against guns ... but you don't feel safe anymore. It's just another nail."

Kowalski's patrons Monday said the robbery won't keep them from shopping in the area, usually ranked as one of the city's safest.

"I'm just glad to hear everyone's OK," said Paula Reinhart, a neighbor.

"I'm not scared to walk in St. Paul. ... It's a safe town," Terry Skally said.

Dave Titus, president of the St. Paul Police Federation, said the officers handling the incident did "just exceptional work" locating the suspect so quickly.

"It's frustrating to me to see the increased amount of guns recovered this year, to see the amount of shots fired. Our cops are on a daily basis running more and more into violent offenders," he said.

In October, two separate police-related shootings left two men dead and an officer wounded. Those shootings are still under investigation.

Titus said he often shops at the Kowalski's store on Grand Avenue. "Obviously, no matter where you're at, you have to stay alert," he said.

kduchschere@startribune.com • 651-925-5035 pwalsh@startribune.com • 612-673-4482

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