UPDATE: St. Catherine University fires security guard who shot himself
ST. PAUL — The St. Paul NAACP and others are expressing outrage over a now-former St. Catherine University security guard who allegedly falsely claimed a black man had shot him. Brent Patrick Ahlers, 25, later told police he accidentally shot himself.
On Thursday, St. Kate’s President Becky Roloff said Ahlers’ statements about the race of the “suspect” are “deeply troubling and do not reflect our values.” Ahlers was fired by the school, officials said Thursday evening.
Ahlers called 911 on Tuesday night to report he was shot by a suspicious person he confronted in a wooded area on the campus of St. Catherine University along Cleveland Avenue.
Ahlers, of St. Louis Park, reported the shooter was a black male with “a short Afro,” wearing a navy blue sweatshirt and black jeans, according to police scanner traffic posted by MN Police Clips.
However, St. Paul police did not publicly release a suspect description because, a spokesman said, “as the facts of this case were being discovered, we did not have confidence in the description.”
Dianne Binns, president of the St. Paul NAACP, called Ahlers blaming a black man for the shooting was “nothing new.”
“It’s been happening for decades to African-American men in America,” Binns said. “St. Kate’s said they’re sorry, but they should come out and have more remorse and responsibility. That was their employee.”
Binns said when she first heard of the false accusation “it made me angry, then sad … I thought we had come a long way in seven decades but I guess that’s not the case.”
Ahlers’ report set off an extensive manhunt that lasted till midnight and included 55 officers, four dogs and a Minnesota State Patrol aircraft. About 1,800 students were on lock-down at the university.
Ahlers was treated Tuesday night at Regions Hospital. He told investigators during questioning on Wednesday that he accidentally shot himself with his handgun and lied about it because he feared losing his job, according to St. Paul police.
He was released on his own recognizance about 4:30 a.m. Thursday, according to a staff member at the jail.
Ahlers has hired an attorney. A message left with the attorney was not returned Thursday.
Roloff said in Thursday’s statement that St. Catherine University “strongly condemns racial discrimination, racial stereotyping, and racial profiling of any kind.”
Mara H. Gottfried contributed to this report.