The gunman wounded by police outside a Brooklyn Park Walmart Monday opened fire first and was wearing a “bandolero” style ammo belt around his midsection, according to charges filed Wednesday.
James H. Klein, 32, of Chaska was charged in Hennepin County District Court with two counts of first-degree assault on a peace officer and a felony weapons count in connection with the encounter at the retail outlet in the 8000 block of N. Lakeland Avenue, northeast of Interstate 94 and Hwy. 169.
Klein was charged by warrant as he recovers in a hospital from police gunfire to a leg and a hand. No officers were wounded.
He left prison in August and was under supervised release after being sentenced in 2013 in Scott County for drug, weapons and counterfeiting currency offenses. Klein also has two earlier drug possession convictions in Minnesota and one for fleeing police.
On Wednesday evening the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) identified the officers involved as Charles Cudd, a 14-year Brooklyn Park department veteran, and Dane Lazenberry, who shot and wounded Klein. Lazenberry has been in law enforcement for five years, including the past year with the department.
According to the charges, based on investigation by the BCA:
Police were called to the store about a suspected shoplifter. Officers also learned that Klein was there buying “a large amount of ammunition and wearing a holster.”
Cudd spoke with Klein outside the store and ordered him to halt. Klein, instead, walked away and defied the officer’s orders. The officer shot Klein with a stun gun, but it “had minimal effect.”
Klein began running and then shot at the officer, prompting return gunfire.
Lazenberry ran after Klein and shot at him. The suspect pointed a gun at a vehicle in the lot before turning toward the officer “with the handgun still drawn.”
Lazenberry shot at Klein again, this time wounding the suspect.
Police recovered Klein’s handgun and the ammo belt with numerous rounds of ammunition.
The suspect “pulled a gun on me out there and started shooting, and I returned gunfire,” Cudd told one of his superiors.
The encounter was connected to a suspected armed carjacking that morning at an Enterprise car rental office in nearby Brooklyn Center, according to emergency dispatch audio.
“Driver of the car said the suspect pointed a gun directly at her and told her to get out,” a dispatcher was heard saying. “She’s at home now in Minneapolis.”
Two people who were with Klein were briefly detained and released, the BCA said.