Charges: St. Paul officer slapped gun away in Walmart attempted robbery

A Tomah, Wis. man has been charged after leading police on a high-speed chase through St. Paul after apparently trying to steal a Soundfreaq Bluetooth speaker from Walmart.

On Sunday, James Ryan Frei, 34, went to Walmart on University Avenue West, picked up the speaker equipped with a Spider-wrap theft prevention device and a ball of clothing. He went into a dressing room, and when he emerged, threw the clothes on a folding table and walked out the front of the store. Asset protection found the empty speaker box inside the fitting room. Charges say off-duty St. Paul Officer Tschida was contacted and found Frei in the store vestibule, asked Frei to go to the apprehension office, and Frei pulled out a handgun, pointing it inches away from the officer's face. Officer Tschida slapped the gun away and drew his own firearm. Frei fled, hopped into a Chevy Silverado through the passenger door and Officer Tschida fired, hitting the truck several times.

Frei fled in the pickup, driving over landscape shrubs and a curb. Officers caught up with him at Summit Avenue and Dunlap Street, where Officer Ly saw Frei point a gun at squads out the window, charged said. Frei continued down Summit Avenue, went the wrong way on Snelling and crashed into a parked SUV head-on near Aldine Street and Edmund Avenue.

Frei got out of the pickup and fled on foot, lost a shoe, fell, and got arrested. Officers recovered a Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun from the pickup. Frei had a warrant for his arrest out of LaCrosse County from June 17 for failing to appear on a motor vehicle theft charge. In this incident, he was charged with possession of a firearm by an ineligible, second-degree assault and fleeing a peace officer.

He has several convictions out of Oklahoma and Wisconsin, including robbery and battery.

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