Duluth police today released the names of the people involved in a fatal shooting early Tuesday.
Zachary Rodney Paul Premo, 26, died after being shot by officers Matthew Hendrickson and Jacob Peterson outside of 319 E. Locust St. around 2:30 a.m.
Police say the officers shot Premo as he reached for a handgun following a confrontation that began while officers looked for a driver who had fled the scene of a one-vehicle crash.
Eleven days before his death Premo was convicted and fined $385 on a petty misdemeanor charge of reckless driving after he ignored commands from two officers and nearly hit one with his speeding pickup truck in January, according to court records.
Tuesday's incident began at 1:59 a.m. when officers responded to a report of a single-vehicle crash in the area of Orange Street and Arlington Avenue. The vehicle involved ran off the road, hit a tree and suffered heavy damage, Deputy Police Chief Mike Tusken said at news conference Tuesday afternoon. The driver fled the scene.
According to police, two officers responded to the area of 319 E. Locust St., the address associated with the crashed vehicle. There, approximately 30 minutes after the crash, one officer encountered Premo armed with a handgun, police said. The officer radioed for assistance and shouted commands at the man. The second officer in the area arrived to help, and both officers repeated loud verbal commands to attempt to get the man to comply. The encounter lasted for more than three minutes, according to police. When the officers attempted to take the man into custody he reached for the area where his gun was located. Both officers fired weapons, hitting the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
Citing the fact that the shooting is under investigation, Tusken declined to say how close the officers were to Premo, what type of handgun he had or specifically what they commanded him to do.
Tusken did say Premo's gun was "near his chest area."
Hendrickson is a seven-year veteran of the department and Peterson is a four-year veteran. Neither officer was physically injured. The officers will be placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in these cases.
At the department's request, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the shooting. Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to contact the BCA at (651) 793-7000.
When the BCA completes its report, a county attorney's office will use it to help determine whether the officers' actions were justified.
A search of Minnesota and Wisconsin court records for Premo found only minor cases. In 2012 he was placed on six months of probation on a petty misdemeanor count of inattentive driving.
In January he was charged with the reckless driving petty misdemeanor. In that case Premo allegedly nearly hit a police officer with his truck while ignoring officers' order to stop.
According to court documents, two uniformed police officers were dealing with a domestic on the 2300 block of West First Street shortly before 3 p.m. on Jan. 5 when they heard loud engine revving noise and saw a pickup truck coming at them at "well over 50 miles an hour, possibly close to 60 or maybe even 70." The officers stepped onto the street, shouting and waving at the driver to stop. The driver swerved around the first officer, nearly hit the second and ran a stop sign while fleeing up 24th Avenue West.
One of the officers got the truck's license plate number, and later identified Premo from a photograph and then in person while questioning him at his home. During the questioning "Premo ... slammed the door in my face," the officer wrote.