The man shot and killed by police in south-central Minnesota was identified Thursday as 20-year-old Gilberto Salas of Gaylord.
Salas was killed Wednesday afternoon in St. James, after he allegedly stole a vehicle and led police on a high-speed chase, then hid in a store where he was shot.
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said officers from at least five agencies were involved. In a statement Thursday afternoon the BCA said it expects to release more details Friday.
The BCA said the incident started late Wednesday morning when deputies in Nicollet County spotted a vehicle that had been reported stolen in New Ulm. A chase was called off for safety reasons.
Pursuing officers were heard on dispatches captured by mnpoliceclips.com that Salas was reaching speeds above 100 miles per hour and that someone was in the car with him. An 18-year-old woman was held briefly, according to the Watonwan County jail log.
Early Wednesday afternoon, the vehicle was seen in St. James. Officers followed it until the driver drove into a snowbank and ran into Casey’s General Store, where he hid alone in an office.
Emergency dispatch audio revealed an officer at the scene reporting that “we’ve got a barricaded subject in the Casey’s gas station in St. James. He’s got a knife in his hand.”
A moment later, the same officer was heard saying, “Shots fired, subject’s down. … Send medical for the subject.”
Several officers used a Taser on him, and later an officer shot him. He was pronounced dead at a St. James hospital.
Investigators found a knife at the scene, and one officer suffered a noncritical injury.
No officer wore a body camera, and there is no dashboard camera footage of the encounter. The officer who opened fire is on standard paid leave.
ACLU seeks information
Julio Zelaya, an organizer with the ACLU in Minnesota and a St. James resident, said Thursday that the residents of St. James, along with Salas' family, "deserve to know what happened in this tragic incident.”
He said the ACLU wants without delay: the name of the officer who shot him, release of any store video of the incident, and disclosure of “critical details.”
In its statement identifying Salas later in the day, the BCA said the agency continues to interview witnesses. “We expect to release the officers’ names and additional details at some point tomorrow [Friday] when the first round of interviews is completed.”
Pointing to two killings by police gunfire so far this year in Minnesota and nine last year, Zelaya said, “There are better ways to keep communities safe that don’t result in such frequent killings, with disproportionately high numbers of the victims being indigenous people or people of color.”
A stream of Facebook messages mourning Salas’ death continued Thursday.
“To all those who were lucky enough to cross paths with Gilbert Salas, know just how outgoing he was, how funny he could be, how he can care about someone or something,” wrote Valeria Flores, of St. James. “When he loved, he loved twice as much.”
Vanessa Naveunxay told the Mankato Free Press that she and Salas met at school in St. James, and he dropped out after the first of their two children were born. Naveunxay added that they were no longer a couple, and Salas was most recently living with his brother and working construction.
“He was an excellent father,” she said.