Woodbury police shoot, kill manPublished 2:34pm Saturday, September 1, 2012
WOODBURY — A four-hour standoff that involved multiple hostages at a motel in suburban St. Paul ended Friday with one man dead and another under arrest.
Authorities were talking to witnesses and potential victims to try to piece together what happened at the Red Roof Inn in Woodbury. Police said the incident was centered on one room, where “serious criminal activity” was taking place, though they would not elaborate on what that activity was. The room had about 12 people in it when officers arrived.
One man was shot by police, and several other people in the room were injured, apparent victims of assault. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner said the man who was fatally shot was Mark Eric Henderson, 19, of St. Paul.
No one else in the motel was hurt.
“We still have a lot of details that we do not have answers to,” Police Chief Lee Vague said. “This is an investigation that is absolutely going on right now.”
Vague said that at 1:10 a.m. Friday, authorities received an “open 911 call” in which a dispatcher could hear obvious signs of a struggle and what sounded like a mention of weapons.
Police who went to the Red Roof Inn weren’t initially sure what kind of situation they had on their hands or from which room the call originated. At some point, Vague said, a gun was pointed at police and a shot was fired toward officers.
Immediately after the gunshot, a man later identified as Henderson emerged from the room and came toward the officers, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. The officers said they believed Henderson had a weapon and that when he didn’t comply with their commands, they fired at him.
No weapon was recovered from Henderson, according to the department. He died at Regions Hospital.
Authorities said it was another man who fired at officers, and he initially refused to leave the room or let seven other people inside leave. However, he surrendered at about 5 a.m. after negotiating with the Washington County SWAT team and was taken into custody.
The man, a 24-year-old from Maplewood, is being held in the Washington County Jail on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct, aggravated robbery and kidnapping. He is expected to be charged early next week.
Vague said there were numerous people he would describe as “witnesses, victims, subjects” but authorities were still trying to determine everyone’s involvement.
“We know there was a lot of criminal activity that was going on inside that hotel room — serious criminal activity,” Vague said. “We know people were assaulted. And I’m really not in a position to give any of the details about what happened yet, because quite frankly, that’s what we are trying to figure out.”
Evans said authorities recovered multiple weapons from the room. He did not elaborate.
The three officers who fired their weapons were put on paid administrative leave, which is standard. The Department of Public Safety identified them as Woodbury Police Department officers Anthony Ofstead, an 11-year veteran of the department; Stacy Krech, with the department five years; and Natalie Martin, with the department two yaers.
“I can say that I’ve worked with these officers for a number of years, and I trust their judgment, and I know them to be good cops,” Vague said.
Evans said the BCA was assisting with the investigation, and investigating the officer-involved shooting. Crime scene investigators were also processing the motel room and surrounding areas for evidence.
By midmorning Friday, one building of the two-building motel and its surrounding parking lot were still cordoned off by police tape. More than a dozen police vehicles were at the motel, along with the BCA crime scene van.
The doors to the rooms are on the building’s exterior, and there is a balcony on the second floor. Officers could be seen going in and out of a room on the second story.
“This is a tough day for us,” Vague said. “This is a situation we never want to have.”
The officers who were fired at were not injured. One SWAT officer was treated for a minor injury received during the incident.
Authorities have been called to the motel more than 130 times so far this year for several reasons, including underage consumption, disturbing the peace, drug possession and domestic assault. In August alone, police were called to the motel more than two dozen times, according to a log of calls for service.
Message left for the manager of the Red Roof Inn were not returned Friday.