St. Paul police are searching for a 39-year-old man who lives in a North End apartment where a 2-year-old boy was shot and killed Wednesday.
Investigators have issued a request for agencies to pick up and hold the man for questioning in the case, a law enforcement source told the Star Tribune.
The man reportedly lives in the third-floor apartment where the child was struck by gunfire, but his relationship to the young victim is not clear. Court records show he is on probation in Ramsey County and is ineligible to possess a firearm.
The Star Tribune generally does not name those who have not been charged with a crime.
Officers were called to the building at 850 Rice St. about 1:15 p.m. Wednesday on a report of a child who had "hurt his head." On arrival, they learned that the toddler suffered a gunshot wound. He died in the ambulance eight minutes later, said police spokesman Steve Linders.
Three teenagers reportedly in the residence at the time were taken downtown to be questioned by detectives. The adult tenant was not there, and a gun has yet to be found.
A police spokesman declined to discuss the alert Thursday, saying that the circumstances surrounding the boy's death remain under investigation.
It's still unclear who was holding the gun when it discharged and whether the shooting was accidental.
The man who resides there has previous felony convictions for cocaine possession and receiving stolen property — crimes that prevent him from lawfully possessing a firearm, court records show. Ramsey County District Judge George Stephenson stayed 17- and 24-month prison sentences for those cases in 2019, sentencing him instead to five years of probation. Conditions prohibit him from possessing any guns, explosives or ammunition, including replica or toy guns.
His criminal record also includes five previous felonies from Illinois dating back to 2002 for armed home invasion, robbery, sexual assault and drug-related offenses.
If the child's death is ruled a homicide, it would mark St. Paul's 34th of 2020 — tying the capital city's deadliest year of 1992.
Liz Sawyer • 612-673-4648