Ramsey County sheriff's deputies investigating a "suspicious" RV parked in an industrial area in Vadnais Heights Sunday night fatally shot a man inside the vehicle.
Four deputies were placed on paid administrative leave following the 9:32 p.m. shooting in the 3200 block of Fanum Road. Authorities haven't said why shots were fired, and the victim's identity has yet to be released.
But the beat-up camper with a makeshift plywood door was a fixture in the area. Tom Dobihal, who works at Spriggs Plumbing and Heating Co., said he first saw the camper parked on a frontage road in St. Paul in the fall.
"When I saw him on the frontage road, I thought, 'Gee, I hope that guy's OK,' " Dobihal said. "Maybe he fell on hard times."
A few weeks ago, he said, the distinctive camper was parked outside of Midwest Art and Frame Inc. next door. Curt Kellett, the owner of Midwest Art and Framing Inc., said he first noticed the RV parked several days ago, but never saw the man associated with it.
Dobihal, who drove past the camper every morning and evening for months, said he saw a man, presumably the owner, working on the camper on occasion when it was parked in St. Paul, but never interacted with him. It's unclear if the victim of Sunday's shooting is the same person.
"We haven't had any problems with him," Dobihal said.
An employee of another area business said the camper belonged to a man who worked at one of the other businesses nearby, and that he lived with his girlfriend.
John Eastham, a spokesman with the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, said deputies on routine patrol came upon a "suspicious" RV and parked car on Fanum Road. Four deputies found a man inside the RV and a female inside the car.
At one point, a deputy inside the RV fired their weapon and struck the man, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) spokeswoman Jill Oliveira said in a statement.
The BCA is handling the investigation.
After shots were fired, law enforcement can be heard frantically yelling, "shots fired, we need EMS and a supervisor," according to an audio recording posted on the Police Clips website.
"We need medics, code three," another voice can be heard saying.
Responding officers also were heard requesting more squads.
The man was taken by ambulance to Regions Hospital in St. Paul where he later died.
The Ramsey County medical examiner's office will conduct an autopsy and release the victim's identity. The woman in the car was interviewed by investigators and released, Oliveira said.
Deputies were not wearing body cameras, but investigators are reviewing video captured by squad car cameras at the scene.
Four officers were placed on leave, which is standard procedure, Eastham said. None was injured, Oliveira added.
Vadnais Heights does not have its own police force. The city contracts with Ramsey County for police services.
When the BCA's investigation is complete, the BCA will turn its findings over to the Ramsey County attorney's office for review, Oliveira said.
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