Police shoot man at Woodbury Target after parking lot standoff

A busy shopping center in Woodbury became the scene of a standoff Monday morning, where police say a man pointed a gun at law enforcement and officers shot him.

The shooting happened around 10:30 a.m. Monday in the parking lot of the Target in Woodbury Village, near the intersection of Interstate 494 and Valley Creek Drive.

A man, believed to be around 50 years old, was transported to Regions Hospital in St. Paul with gunshot wounds and is receiving treatment, officials said. Woodbury Public Safety Director Jason Posel said he didn’t have an update Monday afternoon about the man’s condition.

“It was a scary scene with shoppers either evacuated or forced to shelter in place,” Posel said. “I want to highlight the bravery of our officers and the deputies under extremely difficult circumstances. Their courageous actions helped keep the community safe today.”

What police say happened

Officers were alerted to a vehicle with stolen license plates parked in the Target lot. They found no one in the vehicle and, as they were investigating, a man returned to the vehicle. He “fought with officers when they attempted to arrest him,” Posel said.

The officers saw the man had a handgun and they “disengaged,” at which point the man barricaded himself in the vehicle, Posel said.

Officers called for negotiators and the department’s embedded social worker, along with the SWAT team.

“They attempted to negotiate and deescalate the individual for an extended period of time,” Posel said. “Less than lethal options were deployed, but he would not comply. He later exited the vehicle, brandishing a handgun.”

He pointed the gun “in the direction of the responding officers” and they fired, Posel continued.

A Woodbury police officer and a Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputy — a member of the Washington County SWAT team — were involved in the shooting. Both have been placed on standard administrative leave.

With data showing an increase in assaults on law enforcement in Minnesota, and the killing of two Burnsville officers and a firefighter/paramedic in February, Minnesota Police and Peace Officer Association General Counsel Imran Ali said Monday they “continue to see a disturbing trend of violence directed at law enforcement.”

“While no officer was shot, this could have ended much differently,” said Ali, a former Washington County prosecutor. “… Right now, our women and men need more than thoughts and prayers. It is crucial for leaders to condemn violence against law enforcement and stand in solidarity with officers who put their lives on the line to protect their communities.”

Posel showed a photo of a handgun that he said was recovered from the man in the Target parking lot, along with a photo from a drone that captured the incident from above. The drone “also was used to help keep our people safe throughout this incident,” Posel said.

All body/dash camera footage and camera data will be handled by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is leading the investigation of the officer-involved shooting.

Woodbury Police are investigating the original stolen-plates incident.

The store was placed on lockdown, and police asked residents in the area to shelter in place during the incident. The store was closed as of early Monday afternoon.

“We can confirm that all guests and team members at our Woodbury Valley Creek Plaza store are safe,” a Target spokesperson said in a statement. “The store remains closed while law enforcement conducts an investigation.”

‘Too close for comfort’

A Maplewood man, who asked that his name not be used, said he arrived at the Woodbury Target around 9:30 a.m. Monday to pick up some Vitamin C.

As he was walking into the store, he said he heard an officer yell, “He’s got a gun!” and then saw a squad car with its lights flashing and sirens wailing pull into the parking lot.

“I was about 100 feet from the store entrance on the east side of the store,” he said. “I can’t say I was scared, and I can’t say I wasn’t scared. I didn’t know. When I realized it, I sort of picked up the pace a little bit. To be honest with you, I was glad I got in the store. After you’re inside, you start thinking about what you see on TV, and then you really start to wonder.”

He said he thinks there were maybe 60 other customers in the store at the time and another 20 or so employees.

Target employees made the customers stay away from the store’s doors, he said. Customers had to stay inside the store until around 11:15 a.m.

Police said customers’ cars had to stay in place in the store’s parking lot as it was considered a “crime scene,” he said. He said he called his wife to come and get him.

Julie Larsen, her daughter Alyssa Hewitt, and Hewitt’s 1½-year-old son were in Target and they “were so thankful” they’d left before the incident, Larsen said.

They went to the nearby Carter’s, which sells children’s clothes, and they were locked in that store due to the danger outside.

“Too close for comfort,” Hewitt said afterward.

Someone they knew came to pick them up. They couldn’t get to their own vehicle because it ended up inside crime scene tape that was strung around the Target parking lot.

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