St. Paul police fatally shot a man Thursday night at a home in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood after he fired a gun at the mother of his children, with five of them nearby, police said.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner identified the man as 28-year-old Phumee Lee.
The shooting took place about 6 p.m. on Euclid Street, near the home in the 400 block of Earl Street where the initial confrontation occurred, according to Sgt. Mike Ernster. The area is north of Interstate 94 and west of Johnson Parkway.
Late into the night, investigators from the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which handles all police shootings, worked at the scene along Euclid, where the man's body lay shielded by a white tent. Ernster said that several of the officers involved in the shooting were wearing activated body cameras that will be examined by investigators.
The woman called 911 after fleeing the house to say that the man had shot twice at her inside the home, Ernster said. According to police scanner reports, the caller told police that the man had been drinking and using drugs.
As the suspect fled the house, police pursued him and a confrontation occurred during which shots were fired and the suspect was struck. Paramedics tried to revive the man, but he died at the scene, Ernster said. No officers were hurt.
A gun was found at the scene, Ernster said, declining to be more specific. He said any further information, including the nature of any relationship between the suspect and the woman and children, will be released by the BCA.
John Vang, who lives near the house where the shooting occurred, said he saw up to seven officers go inside with a police dog. They were inside for seven or eight minutes before he heard a burst of gunfire, he said. The five children, who range in age from 6 months to 7 years old, were led away unharmed, Vang said.
Neighbor Kevin Banks said before the officers went into the house, they used a bullhorn to try to communicate with the suspect and to get him to come out. When he did not, they went in with the dog, Banks said. He, too, heard the spurt of gunfire from inside a few minutes later, before both suspect and police emerged from the house, when more shots were fired.
Ernster called the situation "very dangerous" for both the children and officers. He said that officers made sure the children were safe before the confrontation with the suspect.
A woman who said she was longtime friends with the woman involved in Thursday's incident stopped by the home on Earl Street Friday morning. She and her boyfriend, who said he was related to the man killed Thursday, asked not to be identified.
The two lit incense in the backyard of the home in a traditional Hmong ceremony aimed at releasing a person's spirit into the afterlife.
"What I did was burn the incense and just told him to let go of the anger and sadness," said the woman.
The couple have five kids, who were home Thursday, ranging from grade school age to about six months old.
A neighbor who asked not to be identified said she heard one gunshot go off on the couple's home Thursday evening, and then saw the woman run out into the street and get into a car. The neighbor said she did not hear a second shot, but that her windows were closed.
Several police officers arrived at the front and back of the home, called out over a bullhorn for the man to surrender and eventually entered the home after about 20 minutes, said the neighbor, who heard several shots fired in the confrontation between police and the man.
Lifelong St. Paul resident Jeff Gedatus was driving home from his job as a barber on the city's West Side when the woman ran in front of his car mid-street, crouched down at the passenger window, tapped on the glass and pleaded for help through the closed window.
"This lady ... said her husband wanted to kill her," Gedatus recalled Friday. "At first I was kind of curious about opening up the car door, because you don't know if you're OK doing that. But she looked like she needed help."
It didn't take long for Gedatus to unlock the door. The woman jumped in, and he drove her to his home nearby, where she called police and her sister on his cellphone.
Gedatus said the woman told him that her husband had fired two rounds in the couple's home while their children were present.
"She was panicky," Gedatus said. "She was worried about the kids a lot. She was hoping that they were OK."
The woman was at Gedatus' home for about 30 minutes before leaving with police, who had arrived within minutes of being called.
"I was just thinking that I was in the right place at the right time to help her so the outcome wasn't worse," he said. "[You] just don't expect somebody to come up to your car and say they're about to be killed."
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