The search for Winters began midmorning Tuesday after police identified him as the man they exchanged gunfire with in a St. Louis Park parking lot.
After he fled in his bullet-riddled car, swarms of officers hunted for him, first searching a house in Hopkins, then surrounding a busy Byerly’s store in St. Louis Park, then converging on a block on the western edge of Edina where the suspect’s abandoned car was found. During that part of the search, northbound Hwy. 169 was briefly shut down.
By midafternoon, the search moved south to Jordan, where public school classes were placed in a modified lockdown. Not far from the high school, officers with large vehicles took up positions well into the night.
Louise Lindquist, 85, who lives in the block in Jordan where well-fortified police were positioned, said officers were focused on the home next door to hers.
“They’ve got a Bobcat. I think they’re breaking the garage door down,” she said about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Asked whether she was nervous, Lindquist said, “Nope, there’s not a damn thing I can do but watch it.”
At an early evening news conference, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said Winters “may be wounded” and should be considered armed and dangerous.
Winters’ criminal history in Minnesota spans more than two decades and includes convictions for first-degree drug manufacturing, counterfeit checks, disorderly conduct and second-degree assault.
Reached earlier in the day, Lindquist, the neighbor, said, “I have the SWAT team right next to my bedroom window,” referring to her home on Syndicate Street, just off Hwy. 169. “One officer is sitting on top of [a vehicle] with a gun.”
“They broke down my fence, and I think they went over my windmill,” Lindquist said.
Lindquist said residents were ordered to stay put.
She said that on previous occasions she has seen Winters come and go regularly from the neighborhood in a truck. Earlier Tuesday, she said, she saw a woman in the truck and then police “took it away.”
The drama began about 9:45 a.m. outside Indelco Plastics Corp. in St. Louis Park. When a strange car was spotted parked behind the business in the 6500 block of Cambridge Street, workers twice tried to get the driver to leave.
During their second attempt, Indelco owner Trent Dore said, an employee “saw a gun on the front seat. He backed away.”
Police were called, and about six squad cars surrounded the vehicle, Dore said.
Police and the gunman then fired at one another, Dore said. “Somehow, [the suspect] got out of the lot,” he said. “He went flying through the lot.”
Police soon converged on a home in the 700 block of 8th Avenue S. in Hopkins where the suspect used to live, and ordered anyone inside to come out.
Resident Ryan Coplan said his girlfriend was there alone when officers “came on bullhorns with, ‘Whoever’s inside, come out with your hands up!’ ”
Coplan, who said he moved in less than a year ago, said his girlfriend later called him and said the officers had “guns drawn, searched the house and went on their way.”
Squad cars then sped to the busy Byerly’s grocery store near Hwy. 100 and Excelsior Boulevard. Officers with weapons drawn and accompanied by police took positions behind their vehicles. About 1 p.m., teams of heavily armed officers started to go into the store.
A police officer on the scene who was assisting with sealing off nearby streets said a man with a gun had been seen in the grocery store’s parking lot.
Byerly’s employees who were standing outside said some of their co-workers kept themselves in locked rooms for a time.
Around 1 p.m., a large group of people left the store cheering, then boarded a Metro Transit bus where police talked with them before they were allowed to go home.
Suspect’s car found in Edina
Police attention was then drawn to the western edge of Edina, where authorities briefly closed northbound lanes of Hwy. 169 north of the Crosstown as officers moved in. Edina police Sgt. Brian Hubbard said a resident had come home and found a strange “vehicle with gunshots” in a garage. Hubbard confirmed it was the car connected to the suspect.
Very soon, the drama moved south to Jordan, although officials declined to offer any details as to why. As law enforcement officers and equipment swarmed a residential area, public schools were placed in a “soft” lockdown that delayed student dismissals.
“There was no danger to any of our schools,” said Superintendent Matt Helgerson. “We just did it as a precaution advised by the Jordan Police Department.”
Star Tribune staff writers Pat Pheifer, John Reinan, Erin Adler and Tim Harlow contributed to this report.