One resident fatally stabbed another Monday at a state-run mental health group home in West St. Paul, and a 36-year-old suspect was arrested at the scene, authorities said.
The stabbing occurred shortly before 4 a.m. at the home in the 1500 block of Christensen Avenue, according to Police Chief Brian Sturgeon.
Emergency dispatch audio said the targeted resident, whose identity has yet to be released, was stabbed in the face multiple times.
A third resident and one staff member were also in the home at the time and not harmed, said state Department of Human Services (DHS) spokesman Christopher Sprung.
The Christensen House is one of three DHS-operated group homes caring for people who have been civilly committed for a mental illness and then temporarily discharged from a DHS treatment facility, such as the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter.
Sprung declined to say whether either resident involved in the stabbing had been in the Security Hospital, which treats patients with severe mental health disorders who are also considered dangerous.
He said that having one employee on duty alone for the overnight shift “was an appropriate level of staffing for the current residents” of the home, which gives patients not only a place to live but allows them to come and go for work.
“Incidents of this severity are extraordinarily unusual at DHS inpatient or residential facilities,” Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead said in a statement issued Monday afternoon.
The suspect was booked into the Dakota County jail and awaits charges on suspicion of second-degree murder. The Star Tribune generally does not identify suspects before they are charged.
His criminal history includes a third-degree assault conviction in 2001 in Hennepin County. His sentence for that offense was set aside in exchange for him being put under Security Hospital supervision for three years.
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is assisting in the investigation of Monday’s stabbing, and Harpstead said her agency is cooperating with law enforcement and has begun its own “internal review of this heartbreaking attack.”
“This is traumatic for the other resident of the home and our staff members, so we are also making sure that they get the care that they need,” Harpstead said.
Officers said the suspect was shirtless at one point and briefly on the run, raising concerns that the weapon may have been dropped or hidden somewhere, according to the dispatch audio.
Sturgeon declined to say whether the weapon was recovered and also would not reveal a possible motive.
The DHS operates 105 group homes across the state for people with intellectual disabilities, mental illnesses and other co-occurring conditions. These homes serve about 340 individuals whose conditions are so complex and severe that private providers either cannot or will not serve them because they lack the clinical expertise, appropriate facilities or other resources, DHS officials said.
Records from nearly two years ago also show that the state investigated a claim by someone receiving services at the home of being threatened with a 10-inch knife. A state inquiry failed to substantiate the allegation.