A security officer at St. Catherine University in St. Paul who told police that a suspect shot him Tuesday night admitted on Wednesday that he accidentally shot himself, authorities said.
The security officer, Brent Patrick Ahlers, 25, of St. Louis Park, was arrested Wednesday. He has been charged with filing a false police report, a misdemeanor, and will likely be released from the Ramsey County jail after being booked and fingerprinted, police said.
“Last night I was talking to you about an incident that shocked the community,” Sgt. Mike Ernster said at a short news conference Wednesday night.
“It had basically 1,800 students held captive in their dorm rooms at St. Catherine’s, it had residents of the Mac-Groveland and Highland Park communities fearing they would be hurt in their homes.”
Ernster said 55 police officers and four K-9s, as well as a State Patrol aircraft, joined in the search for a suspect on Tuesday night. Scanner reports described a man in a navy blue sweatshirt and black jeans. Ahlers was taken to Regions Hospital with noncritical injuries.
Police conducted a building-by-building search and advised people to stay indoors as they searched for the shooter.
The St. Catherine campus was locked down and a perimeter was in place until after midnight. Even then, residents called police asking them to come and search their homes because they feared a suspect might be hiding in their yards, Ernster said.
Investigators continued working the case all day Wednesday. While interviewing Ahlers about 9:15 p.m. Wednesday, he told officers that he was in a wooded area of the campus about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. He had brought his personal handgun from home and was handling it when it accidentally discharged, hitting him in the shoulder.
He told police he’d lied and said he made up the story because he was afraid of losing his job because he’d brought a gun to work with him.
Ernster said police have Ahlers’ gun, and “I think it’s a successful end to this incident.”
Pat Pheifer • 612-673-7252