SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Two police officers were struck by shotgun fire at about 12:50 p.m. Thursday afternoon in South St. Paul, Minnesota, one of which was talking to dispatch on his radio as ambulances were ordered to the scene. The shooting happened on the 500 block of 12th Avenue.
The suspect in the shooting was booked into Dakota County Jail Thursday evening and identified as Dustin Allen Bilderback. He now faces eight charges including four counts of second degree attempted murder and another four for use of deadly force against a peace officer.
South St. Paul Police Chief Bill Messerich and Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie confirmed one officer was shot in the shoulder and another was shot in the leg area. The officers were following up on a missing persons report at a residential housing facility that offers support services. The person officers spoke with sounded distraught and ended the call abruptly, prompting the officers to respond.
Once on scene, an "altercation occurred," according to Messerich. Both officers were shot by the suspect and officers returned fire.
"I was sitting in the living room and I heard four pops, pop, pop, pop, pop," said Dominic Choiko, a neighbor. "We went to the basement and that's when we heard sirens from every direction."
Nathan Kasper was driving nearby and narrowly escaped getting hit by the gunfire.
"We saw one of the officers had a gun and he started shooting it," Kasper said. For him, the incident was jarring.
"Just to be going about your business through the day and you just hear gunfire and seeing a shootout going down it was really surreal. It was kind of scary," he said.
Bilderback was not injured. The Dakota County Sheriff’s Office will be investigating the incident.
Police were called for service 110 times to the residential housing facility in 2017 and another 62 times to date this year.
The officer that sustained shoulder wounds and was hospitalized is an 11-year veteran and the non-hospitalized officer with a leg injury is a six-year veteran of the South St. Paul Police Department. Their names have not been released.
"We are thankful our officers are alive," said Chief Messerich in the press conference Thursday.
Leslie added, "there's a lot of questions to be answered a lot of questions that we're asking right now of what exactly was on this suspect's mind, what the officers did."