The 911 call wasn't an active shooter situation, but looked every bit like one in the making.
Two young men were seen in the window of a Falcon Heights apartment building, waving a rifle at the cars below. "Heil Hitler!" they yelled, according to the call.
That's as much as Ramsey County Sheriff's Deputy Sam Loe knew when she arrived on the scene to find a teenager walking in the parking lot, and carrying a rifle. The scene is chaotic, with Loe running, and yelling, pointing her own gun at the teenager, while people yell down to her from the apartments above, as captured by dashcam video Minnesota Public Radio posted earlier this week.
And yet, despite the rush of adrenaline that would hit anyone in that moment, Loe was able to listen to their other tenants, and discern the kid's weapon was "a toy," as she says herself about 50 seconds into the video below.
In fact, the gun was an Airsoft pellet rifle -- of similar make to the one that led to Khaleel Thompson's police shooting in suburban Crystal last year -- and an "extremely realistic" replica of the real thing, Ramsey County chief deputy Steve Frazer tells MPR.
"With the detailed nature of the actual rifle itself,' Frazer says, "there would be no way to discern that from a real operational weapon."
Credit to Loe's calm, or at least her belief the kid's neighbors were yelling the truth. The action plays out a little too far from her dashcam to be clearly seen, but her running dialogue tells a pretty clear story.
"Stop!" she yells. "Drop it! Now! Drop it! Drop it! Drop it!"
Then: "Get on your knees!"
Loe relays to other law enforcement she's "got 'im at gunpoint."
Then, when he doesn't comply, and just as backup arrives on the scene, she says to him: "You're fine. Come towards me. Come towards me. Stand there. Stand there, I'm not going to hurt you."
And then... it's over. The teenager is placed under arrest without further incident. His name is being withheld, but he's been charged with felony terroristic threats -- a crime which, in Minnesota state law, explicitly references "display of a replica firearm" -- which would, if he were an adult, carry a maximum penalty of a $3,000 fine or one year and one day in prison.
As MPR notes, the cruel coincidence is that this scene of police restraint played out a few football fields' distance from the site of Philando Castile's 2016 killing by a local police officer. (Jeronimo Yanez was later acquitted in a jury trial.)
Ramsey County released the video as an exhibition of the sort of response that St. Paul suburb "has been seeking in the wake of the Castile shooting," MPR reports.
Frazer credits "good community members" who stayed involved in the situation, urging the teen to drop his gun and comply, and informing Loe that the rifle wasn't a real one.
The net result, Frazer says, was "a safe outcome with no one hurt." Not even the one holding a rifle and yelling "Heil Hitler!"
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