Brent Patrick Ahlers
Brent Patrick Ahlers is a former security guard who was fired from St Catherine University, after first shooting himself, and then claiming he was shot by a black intruder. His hoax caused police to lock down the entire campus. Fifty-five police officers, four police dogs, and a state police surveillance aircraft, took part in the search.
Shooting report of September 12, 2017
Ahlers phoned 9-1-1 at approximately 9:30pm, on September 12, 2017. He reported he was shot by an intruder while patrolling a wooded part of the campus, that was normally deserted, at that time. Local police did not initially release a description of the shooter, but, after he admitted that he had lied about being attacked, the police acknowledged he had described the shooter as a black man wearing a blue "hoodie" style sweatshirt. He claimed the black intruder shot him after he confronted him about smoking cannabis.
On the day following the incident Ahlers admitted that although St Catherine University policy barred all firearms from campus, he had nevertheless, been armed, by his own personal handgun. He accidentally shot himself, and said he reported an intruder shot him, because he was afraid acknowledging he had brought his gun onto campus would get him fired. The radio broadcasts left nearby residents in a state of alarm.
At his sentencing hearing Prosecutors said that Ahler's false claim "caused several young black men in the area to be targeted by police."
The University's initial statement has said that Ahlers had been suspended, with full pay, pending the conclusions of an internal investigation. Representatives of the NAACP criticized Ahlers and the University administration. They asserted that the false claim that a black man was the shooter, and remained at large, eroded the safety of black men. They asserted that the University administration should have gone farther, and should have fired Ahler. The University issued a second statement, later that day, reporting that Ahlers no longer worked for the University.
On October 31, 2017, Ahlers pled guilty to misleading police -- a misdemeanour. He was sentenced on December 17, 2017. He was fined $4,500, a token to help reimburse the expense of the response his claim required. His sentence would allow him to avoid sixty days of jail time, if the judge concluded that six sessions of sensitivity training had brought home to him the impact his false claim had on the black community.
Police said the reason they did not make his description public was that investigators were skeptical of his account, right from the beginning. However, the description of a black man, with an afro, in a hoodie, was circulated to local police, by radio, and reporters, and local residents who owned police scanners, were aware of the suspect description.
St Catherine students also voiced concern over how the lockdown and search were conducted. They complained they were kept in the dark. The University had partnered with a firm that provides a site, and smartphone app, intended to send security updates to smartphones, but many students were unaware of this service. Ahlers was arrested on September 13, 2017, and charged with lying to police -- a misdemeanor. The University fired him the following day, September 14, 2017.
The Twin Cities Pioneer Press quoted NAACP officials who were critical of Ahlers, for falsely blaming a black man for his wounding. They reported that the NAACP officials were also critical of the University, for not taking more responsibility for their employee.
- Nick Woltmann, Josh Verges (2017-09-13). "St. Catherine guard shot himself, made up the gunman-on-campus story, police say". Twin Cities Pioneer Press. https://www.twincities.com/2017/09/13/st-catherine-resumes-classes-after-campus-shooting-offers-counseling/. Retrieved 2018-01-25. "That set off an extensive manhunt that lasted till midnight and included 55 officers, four dogs and a Minnesota State Patrol aircraft. No suspect was located nor was a physical description ever detailed."
- Sara Horner (2017-12-18). "St. Catherine University security guard who falsely said black man shot him will avoid jail time, at least for now". Twin Cities Pioneer Press. https://www.twincities.com/2017/12/18/st-catherine-university-security-guard-who-falsely-said-black-man-shot-him-will-avoid-jail-time-at-least-for-now/. Retrieved 2018-01-28. "During his sentencing Monday, Ramsey County District Judge Nicole Starr ordered Brent Patrick Ahlers to pay about $4,500 in restitution for the expense incurred by law enforcement who spent hours hunting for the fictitious assailant. But Starr gave him an opportunity to avoid jail if he meets other requirements imposed by the court."
- "Safety officer injured after shooting at St. Catherine University". KSMP-TV (St Paul, Minnesota). 2017-09-12. http://www.fox9.com/news/security-officer-shot-at-st-catherine-university. Retrieved 2018-01-25. "St. Kate's launched its security protocol, alerting students and staff on campus via text, email and other social media, to shelter in place."
- Mary McGuire (2017-09-13). "St. Catherine’s ‘All Clear’ After Security Guard Shot; Suspect Still On The Loose". WCCO-TV (St Paul, Minnesota). http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2017/09/13/st-catherines-all-clear-after-security-guard-shot/. Retrieved 2018-01-25.
- Sally Hayden (2017-09-15). "Security guard accidentally shoots himself then invents imaginary black man to blame it on: Brent Patrick Ahlers tells police in a 911 call he was shot by a man with a 'short afro'". [The Independent (UK). http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/security-guard-shoot-himself-accident-black-man-blame-imagine-lie-brent-patrick-ahlers-minnesota-a7948246.html. Retrieved 2018-01-28. "Sergeant Mike Ernster, a St Paul Police Department spokesman, said the security guard's false report meant that '1,800 students (were) held captive in their dorm rooms. It had residents of the Mac-Groveland and Highland Park communities fearful that a suspect was on the loose and they could be victimised at any moment.'"
- "St. Kate's security officer admits to shooting self, lying to police". Fox News. 2017-09-14. http://www.fox9.com/news/st-kates-security-officer-admits-to-shooting-self-lying-to-police. Retrieved 2018-01-28. "The officer, Brent Patrick Ahlers, 25, was placed on a paid leave of absence Wednesday while the investigation continued into his report that he had been shot by someone in a darkened area on campus Tuesday at 9:25 p.m."
- "Cops: College guard shot self on campus, blamed "black man"". CBS Evening News (St Paul, Minnesota). 2017-09-14. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cops-college-guard-shot-self-on-campus-blamed-black-man/. Retrieved 2018-01-28. "Police in Minnesota say a campus security guard who claimed he had been shot by a "black man in a hoodie" actually shot himself, reports CBS affiliate WCCO."
- Josh Lowe (2017-01-15). "White College Guard Sparks Manhunt for ‘Black Man in Hoodie,’ Admits He Shot Himself by Accident". Newsweek magazine. http://www.newsweek.com/guard-shot-himself-black-male-665560. Retrieved 2018-01-28. "He later confessed he had brought his gun onto campus without permission and was afraid of losing his job if college authorities learned of its existence."
- Rachel Siegel (2017-09-15). "A white security officer told police he was shot by a black man. Turns out, he’d shot himself.". Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/09/15/a-white-security-officer-told-police-he-was-shot-by-a-black-man-turns-out-hed-shot-himself/?utm_term=.af576ae485a0. Retrieved 2018-01-27. "Police told the Star Tribune that they were immediately skeptical of Ahlers’s original story, so they chose not to publicize his description of the shooter. However, audio from police scanner traffic posted by MN Police Clips was widely shared on social media. That audio included identifiers such as the fabricated suspect’s race, navy blue sweatshirt and Afro."
- "Shot Minnesota security guard 'lied about black gunman'". BBC News. 2017-09-15. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/world-us-canada-41283750. Retrieved 2018-01-25. "Investigators said they were sceptical of Mr Ahlers' story, so decided not to publicise his description of the supposed gunman."
- Kate Raddatz (2017-09-13). "St. Catherine Students Upset With Administration’s Response To Shooting". WCCO-TV (St Paul, Minnesota). http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2017/09/13/st-catherine-students-upset-shooting/. Retrieved 2018-01-25. "The shooting happened just before 9:30 p.m. in a wooded area near Cleveland Avenue in St. Paul. An unnamed security guard was shot in the shoulder after confronting the suspect."
- "Lockdown lifted after St. Kate's shooting, classes to resume". KARE 11. 2017-09-13. http://www.kare11.com/article/news/crime/lockdown-lifted-after-st-kates-shooting-classes-to-resume/89-474284370. Retrieved 2018-01-25. "Meantime some students are critical of the lack of information they received from the University during the lockdown."
- Sarah Horner, Squires (2017-09-14). "Fired St. Kate’s guard who police say shot himself is criticized for blaming black male". Twin Cities Pioneer Press. https://www.twincities.com/2017/09/14/st-kates-security-guard-who-authorities-say-shot-himself-is-criticized-for-initially-blaming-a-black-male/. Retrieved 2018-01-25. "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."