Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Police: Suspects in custody in officer shooting
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Sgt. Gerald Vick, 41, an officer since 1989, had received two medal of valor commendations: One was made in December 1990, for rescuing a young child from a burning home. The other was awarded in 1997, after Vick shot and killed an armed suspect at a crime scene. (St. Paul Police Department)
St. Paul Police officials say they're confident that they are holding the two men who allegedly shot and killed a St. Paul police officer early Friday morning.

St. Paul, Minn. — Sgt. Gerald Vick, 41, was gunned down outside a bar in East St. Paul's Dayton's Bluff neighborhood. For hours legions of law enforcment officers searched a 1.5-square-mile area of the neighborhood where the shooting took place.

It was the first fatal shooting of a police officer in St. Paul since 1994 when two members of the department were shot on the same day, in the same part of the city.

Police officials say it's not unusual that Sgt. Vick was working in the middle of the night in the area of St. Paul where he ended up being shot to death (Audio: A profile of Gerald Vick).

Chief John Harrington says Vick, who's been a St. Paul cop for more than 15 years, regularly worked odd hours and spent much of his time on the East Side, most recently as part of a vice unit investigation focusing on prostitution in area bars.

Harrington says shortly after 2 a.m., Sgt. Vick and his partner, Sgt. Joe Strong, were wrapping up an undercover detail and heading out an East Side bar when they confronted two people who were reportedly harassing people outside (Audio sidebar: Crime a growing problem on St. Paul's East Side).

"They were accosted by these two individuals who made some demands for money and made other statements that made it appear at least on the surface that they might have been looking either to be begging or they might have been looking to roll or rob one or more people coming out of the bar," according to Harrington.

Harrington says Vick and Strong walked away from the suspects after telling them to move on. He says the two officers then headed for their respective cars when the second, deadly confrontation quickly unfolded.

"As the sergeants were heading toward their cars, the two suspects re-engaged with Sgt. Vick. As Sgt. Strong was walking over to assist Sgt. Vick, one of the suspects fired multiple shots at Sgt. Vick. Sgt. Vick sustained multiple gunshot wounds. Sgt. Strong then fired several shots at the suspects as they fled on foot," he said.

Harrington says neither suspect was hit by Strong's gunfire.

Chief Harrington says "valiant efforts" to save Vick's life were unsuccessful. Vick was pronounced dead a short time later at Region's Hospital in St. Paul. Harrington says it's unclear whether the suspects knew Vick and Strong were police officers. The two men arrested, but not charged, were Harry Jerome Evans, 32 and Antonio Alexander Kelly, 27. Ramsey County Susan Gaertner said the deadline for filing formal charges was Monday, although prosecutors could seek an extension.

Harrington says Evans was arrested about 10:15 a.m. in the 900 block of Reaney Ave., not far from the bar. Kelly was arrested at 3:30 a.m. in the 1000 block of York Ave.

He says both men were found within a few blocks of where the shooting took place and that a gun that may have been used to kill Vick was also found nearby.

Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner says her office has until Monday to formally file charges. Between now and then, police will try to match forensic evidence with their two suspects and piece together other evidence.

Several law enforcement agencies assisted in the search for the suspects and anything that might link them to the killing. Police from nearby suburbs, from Minneapolis, as well as federal agents and the National Guard.

Chief Harrington says while officials think they've made a great deal of progress in their investigation, they're not finished.

"This investigation remains very active. It is not by any means a done deal," he said. We are still trying to make sure that we have all of the possible witnesses testimony available, that we all the forensic evidence that is available. Ballistic testing on the recovered gun will be done by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and investigators will be working the case throughout this weekend and will be working in consultation with Susan Gaertner's office."

Friday's search was only a few blocks from Sacred Heart Church, where nearly 11 years ago rookie officer Ron Ryan Jr. was sent to check on a man sleeping in a car.

He rousted small-time drug dealer Guy Harvey Baker and took the 26-year-old's ID back to his squad car to do a routine check. Fearing Ryan would discover his Iowa arrest warrant, Baker pulled a revolver from his lap and shot Ryan, then took the officer's gun.

In the manhunt that followed, officer Tim Jones' police dog, Laser, picked up Baker's trail and tracked him to a fish house where he was hiding. With the dog whining outside the fish house door, Baker shot Jones through the window with Ryan's gun. Baker ran out, grabbed Jones' gun and killed Laser when the dog bit his leg.

Baker was arrested later that day. He pleaded guilty and is serving two life sentences with no possibility of parole.

Mayor Randy Kelly said Friday's shooting brought back memories of 1994.

"It opens up that hole in the heart that was created 11 years ago when two fine officers were killed," he said. "It dredges back that memory and that hurt and that pain and that senselessness."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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