A suspect sought in connection with a church burglary and chase was critically injured in a shooting involving a St. Paul police officer early Sunday morning.
Police have not yet released the name of the suspect wounded in the shooting, but his mother, Yolanda Phelps, identified her son as 21-year-old Deshawn Nelson with Fox 9 News. She says she is frustrated with police and has not been allowed to see her son in the hospital.
What began as a burglary call at a church in the Merriam Park area, near the 1700 block of Dayton Avenue, just after 4 a.m. escalated into gunfire after a short vehicle chase and foot pursuit.
When arriving at the scene, officers heard gunfire nearby and soon saw a suspicious vehicle. Although officers attempted a traffic stop, the driver would not pull over, and police followed for a brief chase.
The vehicle eventually slowed and a passenger bailed from the car. Police say the responding sergeant believed that person had a handgun and had fired it multiple times. He gave chase on foot and eventually shot Nelson at least once.
"We're not going to elaborate on the injuries at this time," Sgt. Paul Paulos said.
Investigators recovered a handgun from the scene and are looking into what instigated the gunfire.
Police confirmed the sergeant fired multiple times, striking Nelson, who was taken to Regions Hospital with critical injuries. The sergeant is being treated for a knee injury suffered during the chase.
According to police, a bullet also entered a nearby home where four University of St. Thomas students live, grazing the wrist of one man inside after tearing through a window frame. The student suffered a minor injury and declined medical attention, but police do not know who fired that particular bullet.
"We don't know whether it came from the suspect or the officer's handgun," Paulos said, adding that it was not clear how many shots were fired.
Bill Bobick lives near where the shooting occurred, and he said he had no idea what was going on outside his home at 4:30 a.m. while he and his wife were startled awake by the gunfire.
"My wife said she could see muzzle flashes on that side of the house -- definitely something going on over here," he recalled.
Neighbors in the densely populated neighborhood are convinced the ordeal unfolded as a shoot-out between the suspect and police, but investigators won't confirm whether the suspect fired back.
"There was a lot of gunfire," Bobick said. "I think there were only 2 guys out here. There was a hail of bullets. Someone getting shot at just as much as shooting."
The shooting ended after the suspect fell in Bobick's front yard. Paramedics quickly rushed the man to the hospital.
As daylight broke, many residents were startled to see bullet holes piercing homes and garages, leaving many innocents feeling like they just escaped a close call.
"Those bullets could have hit anybody," Bobick said. "They go through walls. Definitely could have hit anybody like a hot knife through butter with these old houses."
One Dayton Avenue home was peppered with bullet holes -- 3 on the house and 3 on the garage. The family with young children inside was unharmed, but disturbing incident has neighbors hope police clarify the details of the shooting soon.
"It's the flying bullets," Bobick said. "The guns aren't scary. The bullets are scary."
Investigators are still looking for the suspect vehicle. Anyone with information is asked to call 651-266-5650.
No further information will be released until Monday afternoon at the earliest, police said. At that time, the sergeant's identity will be released. He is currently on a 3-day administrative leave, which is standard protocol.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.