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Two South St. Paul police officers struck by shotgun fire


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Two South St. Paul police officers struck by shotgun fire in altercation; suspect arrested
Gunshots rang out in a South St. Paul neighborhood on Thursday afternoon, leaving two police officers injured and a neighborhood shaken.
One of the officers needed to be hospitalized, though his injuries were not life threatening. There was an exchange of gunfire, but a 33-year-old man was taken into custody without being injured, according to police.
The officers were wounded as they responded to a routine call. It happened the day after officials say an inmate killed Minnesota Department of Corrections Officer Joseph Gomm at the Stillwater state prison. South St. Paul Police Chief Bill Messerich expressed condolences to Gomm’s family, friends and co-workers.
“While our situation had the potential for a much more tragic outcome than it did, I’m grateful the injuries of our officers were not any worse than they are,” Messerich said.
Dustin Allen Bilderback was booked into the Dakota County jail after he was arrested on suspicion of four counts of attempted murder and four counts of use of deadly force against a peace officer, according to a jail record. He was previously civilly committed for being mentally ill and dangerous, court records show.
The incident began just before 1 p.m. Thursday, when the officers went to 550 12th Ave. N., a supportive housing facility for Everyday Living, which serves clients with mental health issues, according to its website. Police were called to the apartment building 110 times in 2017 and 62 times so far this year, according to Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie.
The initial call Thursday was a follow-up to a missing persons report.
“The person the officer was speaking with sounded distraught and ended the call abruptly, so officers responded to the scene,” Messerich said. ” … Soon after that an altercation occurred, where the suspect obtained a shotgun and fired at our officers. Two officers were struck during the exchange of gunfire. Our officers did return fire, did not strike the suspect.”
The suspect dropped the gun and was taken into custody. He was the subject of the initial missing persons call, Leslie said.
Teresa Roussin was in her nearby house when she heard four shots and looked out the window. She said she heard a scream and someone yell, “that’s gunfire,” and she called 911.
“As the 911 operator came on and more gunfire started, I said, ‘They’re still shooting,’” Roussin said. The operator told her to get to the lowest level of her home, which she did. She said a squad pulled up, an officer ran toward the multi-unit building and yelled, “Put it down, get down, get down.”
Roussin then heard another eight to 12 more shots.
“It was scary and I just hope that officer’s OK,” she said.
One of the two injured officers was taken to a hospital, where he was in stable condition, police said. That officer, who has 11 years of service, was struck in the shoulder. The other officer, who has six years of experience, was struck in the leg area, Leslie said. Neither officer was identified Thursday afternoon.
The Dakota County sheriff’s office is leading the investigation.
“We’re thankful that the officers are alive,” Leslie said. “We’ve very, very thankful.”
Leslie said there are “a lot of questions to be answered,” including “what exactly was in the suspect’s mind.”
The case will be presented to the Dakota County attorney’s office for charging consideration, likely on Friday.
Bilderback was convicted of fifth-degree assault in 2009, disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property in 2007 and negligent storage of a firearm in 2003.
He was last civilly committed in 2009 to the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter, but a request was filed with the court Thursday to revoke his provisional discharge, according to a court record.
Mental health.... again, and again, and........
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Suspect identified in shooting of two South St. Paul officers
After two South St. Paul police officers were wounded in a shooting on Thursday, July 19, Dustin Allen Bilderback, 33, was arrested on suspicion of four counts of attempted murder and four counts of use of deadly force against a peace officer.
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