A Fargo police officer shot and wounded a suspected car thief early Monday in a Fargo parking lot just as the man raised what turned out to be a pellet gun in a threatening manner, authorities said.
The 31-year-old man, whose identity was being withheld, was taken to Essentia Health for surgery, said Police Chief Dave Todd, who declined to reveal the seriousness of the man's wounds.
The shooting occurred about 3:15 a.m. near the Pizza Hut on 13th Avenue S., Todd said.
The suspect's weapon was a "BB or pellet gun, a replica" of a lethal weapon and it had a laser sight, Todd said in a media briefing about four hours after the shooting. Todd then released a photograph of a model of that weapon, saying he wanted the news media to see what the officer was observing.
Todd added that law enforcement arrested a woman who was in the car with the man, a 34-year-old from nearby Thompson.
In a brief statement, Todd outlined the circumstances leading up to and including the shooting, but he declined to field questions:
Law enforcement in Traill and Cass counties were alerted to be on the watch for a car stolen out of Bottineau on Friday. Early Monday, deputies spotted the vehicle and pursued it, but "at some point, disengaged," Todd said.
Officers from Fargo and West Fargo spotted the car traveling the wrong way on 13th. A witness called 911 and reported seeing the car hit a large rock in a Wal-Mart parking lot and then head east on 13th in the westbound lanes.
The car returned to the Wal-Mart lot, and the man got out and fled in one direction, while the woman with him ran the other way.
Police were advised that the man appeared to have a firearm with a laser sight.
A Fargo officer confronted the man in the Pizza Hut lot, and the two circled the squad car with their weapons drawn in a cat-and-mouse standoff.
The suspect then pointed his weapon at his pursuer, and the officer "fired what we to believe were three rounds," Todd said. "The suspect went down immediately."
Officers rendered aid before the man was hospitalized.
The officer who wounded the man was identified as Patrick Thomas, who joined the Fargo Police Department about 11 months ago after a stint on the North Dakota State University force. Thomas is on paid administrative leave, which is standard under these circumstances.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482