Safety officer injured after shooting at St. Catherine University

- UPDATE: St. Paul police have made an arrest related to the shooting at St. Catherine University, the department announced Wednesday night

According to Sgt. Mike Ernster, the security officer confronted a suspicious person around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in the wooded area on the southwest side of the campus. He was then shot in the shoulder, and the gunman fled the area.

Campus security officers at St. Kate's are not armed, Ernster said.

The officer called police to report the incident himself. He was transported to Regions Hospital with a non-life threatening injury.

St. Kate's launched its security protocol, alerting students and staff on campus via text, email and other social media, to shelter in place.

Katie Williams and her roommate were locked down in their dorm room overnight as St. Paul police officers searched the school buildings and grounds for the suspect. 

"I thought I heard a shot and then screaming, but I was watching TV, I thought I must be hearing something," Williams said. "Then the sirens were blaring, so yes, it was unnerving.”

After several hours of searching, officers were unable to locate the suspect. The campus was given the all clear around 2 a.m. 

While the situation played out over several hours, some people complained that St. Kate's did not do enough to communicate the potential threat. 

"I was very frustrated," Williams said. "We were not alerted by the school, but alerted by media and relatives. [my roommate's] cousin texted us. We had no clue there was a shooting. We just knew people were everywhere. It's frustrating."

Ernster said this type of incident is unusual for that part of St. Paul.

“It is very out of character for this university and for this area,” he said at a press conference Tuesday night. “This type of crime does not occur down here very often.”

But, university administrators stand behind their alert system, explaining it worked how it was supposed to and chalking up any delays in notification to wanting to make sure students and staff got accurate information. 

“Trying to figure out what we need to tell them, what happened, what didn’t happen," said Mark Johnson, St. Kate's VP of Safety, Security and Facilities. "Obviously, we want to let everyone know, but also don’t want to go the opposite route and them something happened that didn’t really happen.”

St. Kate's has since resumed all normal campus activities. The university is encouraging students to alert their professors if they need accommodation for their academic schedule due to "stress and disruption" caused by the incident, according to a statement.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing. No suspect description has been released.

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