(KMSP) - The public safety officer who suffered a non-life threatening injury Tuesday night shot himself, St. Paul police announced Wednesday night.
Brent Patrick Ahlers of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, was arrested at 9:15 p.m. Wednesday at St. Paul Police headquarters for falsely reporting a crime. On Thursday, St. Catherine University announced Ahlers is no longer an employee at the school.
Ahlers, 25, initially told police he was shot by a suspect in a wooded area on the St. Catherine University campus. According to a release, he admitted to investigators that he accidentally shot himself that night.
Ahlers told investigators he was handling his gun when it accidently discharged, sending a bullet through his shoulder. He called 9-1-1 and was transported to Regions Hospital by Saint Paul fire medics.
While he was being treated at the hospital, police set up a perimeter around campus and conducted "an exhaustive search involving 55 officers, four canines and a Minnesota State Patrol aircraft," according to a release.
During the search, about 1800 students were confined to their dorm rooms, and residents of the Mac-Groveland and Highland Park communities were fearful that a suspect was on the loose and that they could be victimized at any moment.
No suspect was located and the search was called off just after midnight.
Ahlers told investigators he feared losing his job, so he made up the story about being shot by a person in the wooded area.
Sgt. Mike Ernster with the St. Paul police said that while interviewing Ahlers, they discovered he was "in the wooded area, had brought his personal handgun to work that night and had accidentally shot himself in the wooded area. He was nervous about losing his job due to the fact that he had his gun at work and what had occurred, so he made up the story to cover what had happened.”
In a statement Wednesday night, St. Catherine University President Becky Roloff wrote that Ahlers has been a member of the St. Catherine Department of Public Safety for 15 months, with no reports of misconduct on his record prior to this incident.
"Before his hiring he had undergone a thorough background check. He holds an associate degree in law enforcement and completed law enforcement skills training at Hennepin Technical College.
According to the statement, firearms are prohibited on campus and are not carried or issued by St. Catherine Public Safety staff.
St. Catherine University President Becky Roloff statement:
I want to let you know that the St. Paul Police arrested tonight a St. Catherine University public safety officer who reported being shot on campus on Tuesday night. Police said misdemeanor charges of falsely reporting a crime are expected to be filed.
The officer, Brent Patrick Ahlers, 25, was placed on a paid leave of absence Wednesday while the investigation continued into his report that he had been shot by someone in a darkened area on campus Tuesday at 9:25 p.m. He was taken to Regions Hospital, where he was treated for a shoulder wound and released.
A police news release said Ahlers, of St. Louis Park, said he was handling his gun when it accidentally discharged, sending a bullet through his shoulder.
Ahlers has been a member of the St. Catherine Department of Public Safety for 15 months, with no reports of misconduct on his record prior to this incident. Before his hiring he had undergone a thorough background check. He holds an associate degree in law enforcement and completed law enforcement skills training at Hennepin Technical College.
The police reported the weapon involved was the officer’s own firearm. Firearms are prohibited on campus and are not carried or issued by St. Catherine Public Safety staff.
While we are distressed and saddened that this incident occurred, we are relieved that no other members of the community were injured. Investigators announced earlier in the day their belief that there was no threat to public safety.
I appreciate the concern and support we have received from so many of you during this incident. We will continue to keep you informed via traditional and social media as more information emerges.
- President Becky Roloff