Authorities have identified the three law enforcement officers involved in the fatal shooting of a 20-year-old man at a St. James, Minn., convenience store Wednesday.
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said St. James Assistant Police Chief Rochelle Hanson, a 14-year veteran of the force, fired the shots that killed Gilberto Salas of Gaylord, Minn. Hanson, State Patrol Trooper Jacob Ruppert and Watonwan County Sheriff Sgt. Barry Gulden fired their Tasers at him.
Hanson has been in law enforcement for 18 years, the BCA said. Ruppert has been with the State Patrol for one year, but has been in law enforcement for a total of 11. Gulden has been with the Watonwan County Sheriff’s Office for 22 years. They are all on standard administrative leave, the BCA said.
At 11:45 p.m. Wednesday, Nicollet County sheriff’s deputies spotted a vehicle in LaFayette that earlier Wednesday had been reported stolen in New Ulm, the BCA said. A pursuit followed that wound through Nicollet and Blue Earth counties. Investigators, who were able to identify the driver as Salas, called off the pursuit for safety reasons.
At 1 p.m., officers spotted Salas driving the vehicle in St. James in Watonwan County. Salas fled at speeds estimated at 60 miles per hour through residential neighborhoods, the BCA said. Officers pulled back, but continued to follow the vehicle until Salas’ vehicle became disabled in a snowbank.
Salas then fled on foot into the Casey’s General Store at 620 2nd Av. S., the BCA said. A female acquaintance of Salas who was a passenger in the vehicle did not enter the store.
According to the BCA’s preliminary investigation, Salas entered the store, immediately followed by the officers. Gulden fired his Taser, striking Salas. Salas briefly shut himself in an office behind the service counter, then emerged carrying a knife, the BCA said. Salas ignored the officers’ commands to drop the knife and Ruppert and Hanson both fired their Tasers, striking Salas again.
Salas then advanced toward Hanson, who shot Salas.
Officers called for an ambulance and immediately rendered medical aid, the BCA said. Salas was taken by ambulance to the Mayo Clinic Health System hospital in St. James where he was pronounced dead. BCA crime scene personnel recovered a knife from the store floor next to where Salas fell.
Store surveillance cameras and Ruppert’s Taser camera captured portions of the confrontation, but none captured the shooting itself. No officers were wearing body cameras and there is no dash camera footage of the shooting.