ST. PAUL - A 28-year-old man fatally shot by St. Paul police last month was on the phone with his mother during his standoff and said he feared officers would kill him.
Justin Todd Tolkinen's mother tearfully told the Ramsey County dispatch center those things when she called, after she saw news about an officer-involved shooting and was trying to determine whether her son was involved.
The new information came from transcripts released by police Wednesday.
It wasn't the first time Tolkinen had feared that police would shoot him. Tolkinen, who had a history of mental illness and chemical dependency, had in 2008 yelled at a Woodbury, Minn., police officer who responded to a call about him, "Don't shoot me! I'm going to reach in my pocket, don't shoot me!" according to a Woodbury police report.
The incident with St. Paul police occurred March 16. A neighbor called 911 at 3:16 p.m. about an armed man in the area of White Bear and Wilson avenues. Police have said they found Tolkinen with a rifle and wearing an armored vest.
After about an hour, police said they tried to use nonlethal ammunition to take Tolkinen into custody before they shot him. Police have said they're investigating whether he fired his gun, and have not detailed what led them to shoot him.
Tolkinen's mother called a non-emergency line at the Ramsey County Emergency Communications Center at 5:03 p.m. March 16, saying her son had called her and reported "the police were there and they had their guns drawn on him and stuff," according to a transcript of the call, which noted the woman was crying.
The woman had seen news about an officer-involved shooting.
"I was just wondering if you could tell me anything about that," she said.
"I know the police are there," she said. "And I know he has some mental health issues and so he's afraid they were going to kill him (crying)."
She also said Tolkinen had called her and "kept saying the St. Paul police are going to kill me," according to the transcript. "And he kept saying he was going to kill himself or. ..." She added that her son wasn't answering his phone.
The 911 call that police responded to about Tolkinen came from someone around the corner from 411 White Bear Ave., the house Tolkinen had just moved into. The caller reported a neighbor across the alley was "waving around a gun," wearing a vest and yelling, a transcript of that call said.
"Is he the only one who's out there?" the 911 operator asked.
"There was a girl earlier but she left" about 15 minutes earlier, the caller said. Tolkinen had been outside yelling for 20 to 30 minutes, according to the caller's estimate.
Police redacted the caller's name from the report, along with the man's description of the gun. "All I know it's an assault rifle," the caller said.
"(H)e's just talking to the world?" the operator asked.
"Yeah he's just talking to himself right now," the caller said. "He's out there with a big dog."
The caller reported seeing an officer arrive and said the neighbor was walking toward the cop.
The Police Department put four officers involved in the shooting on three-day paid administrative leave, which is the department's policy in such cases.
Police continue to investigate the case. It will be presented to a Ramsey County grand jury for review, which is standard after a fatal officer-involved shooting.