Man arrested after Cloquet shootings
A 23-year-old Carlton County man is in jail after a shooting in rural Cloquet left two men injured Sunday. According to Cloquet Police Chief Steve Stracek, the suspect allegedly fired a gun two separate times at the victims from his vehicle into ...
A 23-year-old Carlton County man is in jail after a shooting in rural Cloquet left two men injured Sunday.
According to Cloquet Police Chief Steve Stracek, the suspect allegedly fired a gun two separate times at the victims from his vehicle into theirs, but the injuries occurred during the second shooting, which occurred about 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the area of Brevator and Big Lake roads on the Fond du Lac Reservation.
The News Tribune generally does not name suspects until they have been formally charged with a crime.
"He had some disagreement with at least one of the occupants of the other vehicle and pursued them from the city core (of Cloquet, near the Armory) up Big Lake Road to Brevator Road," Stracek said in an interview Monday. "At one point, he drove past the victims' vehicle and shot at it. We are not sure if he struck the vehicle during that first volley of shots."
The victims were actually on the phone with 911 before the first shots were fired, the police chief said. Stracek said the victims' vehicle stopped abruptly at one point and turned around and headed toward the Fond du Lac police station, with the suspect still chasing them. That's when the second shooting occurred, and several rounds hit the victims' vehicle.
"One round entered the vehicle and struck the driver in the hand," Stracek said. "Another round entered what we believe to be the rear of the vehicle, penetrated the seat and struck the second victim, who was seated in the back seat."
There was one other person in the vehicle, a woman, who was not injured.
The driver continued to the Fond du Lac police station, where police met them, provided first aid and contacted emergency responders.
In the meantime, according to Stracek, the suspect left the scene in what turned out to be a stolen vehicle, and hid it at a residence on Dagwaagin Road, off Moorhead Road.
Carlton County sheriff's deputies found the stolen vehicle under a tarp, Stracek said, adding that police and partner agencies started to set up a perimeter then and tried to determine if the suspect was at the residence.
"We suspect he fled out the back door of the residence at about that time on foot into the woods," he said. "At that time, we believed he was still armed. So we brought in a whole bunch of cops, including a helicopter from the Twin Cities."
Multiple agencies assisted in the search, spearheaded by Cloquet, including the Fond du Lac Police Department and the FDL Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota State Patrol, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Carlton County Consolidated Emergency Response Team, along with K-9 units from Fond du Lac police, the Carlton County Sheriff's Office, St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Stracek said foot pursuit began about 5 p.m. Sunday and ended about 9:15 p.m., after the suspect had traveled across Moorhead Road and ended up on University Road south of the Cloquet Forestry Center.
The police got several tips from area residents who saw the suspect, including a motorcycle rider who nearly ran into him on University Road when he sprang out of a ditch there.
Two officers found the suspect still on University Road when they went to investigate, but he wasn't ready to surrender initially, Stracek said. Then more officers arrived from the ERT team, with "intimidating-looking, non-lethal weapons," including bean bag rounds, and the suspect surrendered.
"He led us on a pretty good chase through the brush," Stracek said.
On Monday, two officers and their K-9 partners were still searching for the gun and other evidence along University Road.
In the meantime, the victim with the hand injury was treated and released, and the second victim remains in a Duluth hospital, Stracek said.
The suspect probably will be charged in Carlton County District Court today.