Search for suspect in assault of store employee ends in death investigation in Waite Park

What began as investigation into an assault on a store employee at a mall ended with the suspect apparently taking his own life after a brief chase by police, according to the St. Cloud Police Department.

Wednesday at 11:41 a.m., officers responded to a report of an assault at a store at Crossroads Center in St. Cloud. Police learned three males were in the store and one of them allegedly stole an item. An employee tried to take a photo of one males, but was then punched in the face. The three males left the area and police began to search for the suspects.

About twenty minutes later, a Stearns County deputy detained a male, who matched the suspect description, in the 10 block of Waite Avenue in Waite Park near the mall. The suspect initially gave a fake name, but authorities eventually learned his true identity and discovered he had a felony warrant for a felon in possession of a firearm violation.

At 12:29 p.m., officers told him he was under arrest and in response he ran away. Officers chased him on foot, but lost track of him and set up a perimeter. A K-9 found a scent that led to a shed behind a home in the 10 block of Cherry Street in Waite Park. As officers approached the shed, they heard a gunshot go off inside the shed. There, they found the suspect with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound as well as a handgun. An ambulance took him to St. Cloud Hospital, where he later died.

The officers did not fire their guns during the incident.

After reviewing the store's surveillance video, police believe the person who died is the male who punched the store employee.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will be completing the investigation. The Midwest Medical Examiner's Office will complete the autopsy and make the formal identification.