A Wisconsin man was charged Tuesday for allegedly pulling a handgun on a St. Paul police officer at the Midway Wal-Mart on Sunday afternoon.

James R. Frei, 34, of Tomah, Wis., was charged in Ramsey County District Court with possession of a firearm by an ineligible person, second-degree assault and fleeing in a motor vehicle.

Authorities allege that Frei tried to steal a wireless speaker from the Wal-Mart at 1450 University Av., pointed a handgun at officer Michael Tschida when he was confronted and then fled in a pickup truck.

Tschida fired at Frei, striking Frei’s truck several times. No one was injured in the incident.

According to the complaint: Frei placed clothing on top of a Soundfreaq Bluetooth wireless speaker box in his cart, then went into a fitting room with the merchandise. When he exited, he threw the balled-up clothing on a table and walked to the front of the store. The empty speaker box was found in the fitting room.

Frei allegedly exited the store with the stolen merchandise. Tschida, who was working at the store while off-duty, intercepted Frei in the store’s vestibule, asked about the item, then instructed Frei to walk to the back of the store.

“Frei turned his body away from Officer Tschida, pulled out a handgun, turned, and pointed it inches away from Officer Tschida’s face,” the complaint said. “Officer Tschida slapped the gun away from his face, spun away, and drew his own firearm.”

Frei ran from the store pursued by Tschida. As Frei entered a pickup truck through the passenger side door, Tschida fired his gun, striking the truck several times. Frei got into the driver’s seat and drove away.

Police pursued Frei, who allegedly pointed his gun outside the window at squads, sped through stop signs and drove the wrong way on Snelling Avenue. He eventually crashed head-on into a parked sport-utility vehicle, then fled on foot before being arrested a short time later.

A Smith and Wesson 9 millimeter handgun was found on the floorboard of the pickup truck, the charges said.

Frei declined a police interview. He is wanted on an arrest warrant out of Wisconsin for failing to appear on a motor vehicle theft charge, and has convictions in Oklahoma for robbery with firearms and assault, battery with a dangerous weapon and escape. He has also been convicted in Wisconsin of burglary and escape.


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