GILBERT - One person died and a St. Louis County sheriff's deputy was wounded Friday afternoon in a shooting that took place during a foot pursuit in Gilbert.
The names of those involved in the shooting were not released as of Friday night. The deputy suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is handling the investigation.
The gunfire and the massive law enforcement response shattered a quiet afternoon in the Iron Range community.
“I’ve never seen anything like it, not in Gilbert,” said Brian Taylor, who lives across Michigan Avenue from where the shooting took place.
According to the BCA:
At about 1:15 p.m. Friday, the sheriff’s deputy and a Gilbert police officer were attempting to locate a person who was wanted on a warrant.
They found a vehicle believed to be connected with that person on the 100 block of Michigan Avenue West in Gilbert, and an individual exited the vehicle and fled on foot. The officers pursued.
Shots were fired, and the person the officers were pursuing was pronounced dead at the scene. The BCA said a handgun was recovered at the scene.
The deputy was taken by ambulance to Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth. The Gilbert police officer was not injured, but was transported to Essentia Health in Virginia for evaluation and later was released.
Photos taken by the Mesabi Daily News showed at least two individuals being led from the scene in handcuffs in the wake of the shooting, but there was no immediate word on how - if at all - they were connected to the incident.
Further details on the shooting - including whether the person who died was the same person who had been wanted on a warrant, and the nature of that warrant - were not available Friday night. The BCA noted that its agents remained on the scene and that “the investigation is in its very early stages.”
The name of the person who died will be released once the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Ramsey, Minn., completes formal identification and family notification. The names of the deputy and officer involved in the incident will be released after the first interviews are completed, the BCA said.
As light snow fell Friday afternoon, a couple hours after the shooting, law enforcement vehicles surrounded the block where the shooting took place, and sheriff’s deputies could be seen laying down a tarp in the alley behind Michigan Avenue.
Crime-scene tape closed off several blocks of Michigan Avenue, as well as alleys and neighboring streets. Some residents were unable to leave their homes while investigators worked at the scene, and residents who weren’t home at the time of the shooting gathered at the VFW on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Broadway while they waited to be allowed to go to their homes.
Cars driving down Broadway slowed as they passed the scene, their occupants taking a moment to look down Michigan Avenue.
Jim Adamic, who lives a couple houses from where the shooting happened, said he saw police squads pull up, officers run between buildings - and then heard gunfire.
“I hit the ground,” he said. “I figured shots could be coming my way.”
Taylor, the resident of the home across the avenue from where the shooting happened, said he didn’t see anything before the incident, but he did hear a commotion outside. His grandson told him law enforcement officers were outside, and he tried to go out to take a video of officers walking with their weapons drawn - but he was told by officers to go back into his house.
It wasn’t clear whether the person who died was connected to the property where the shooting took place. Michigan Avenue residents gathered at the VFW said the house where the incident took place is a rental property, and Taylor said the residents have lived there for a while. It’s typically quiet at the house during the day, but a lot of fighting coming from the house can be heard in the middle of the night, he said.
At Nick’s Bar a block away from the shooting scene, patrons said they didn’t hear anything at the bar at the time of the incident. A woman who didn’t want to be identified said she lives a street away from the shooting, but didn’t know anything was going on until her granddaughter in Connecticut called her after seeing reports on social media. She said she went to the bar to see if anyone there knew what was going on. She said she’d never seen so many police cars in one spot in her life.
“It’s a quiet, little town, and that’s the way we like it,” she said.
Jana Hollingsworth and Andrew Krueger of the News Tribune staff contributed to this report.