by Dennis Dalman
A shooting incident Sunday, June 12 in Sartell has many residents concerned, including the Sartell City Council members.
At the June 13 council meeting, members asked Sartell Police Chief about the incident and if and how such shootings can be prevented.
At 2:31 p.m. June 12, the Sartell Police Department received an emergency call from someone about shots fired in the 400 block of Third Street South in the city. The suspected involved had quickly fled the area. When the police arrived, the discovered that no one had been injured but that some vehicles and other property had been hit by gunfire. Police stayed on the scene, talked to witnesses and collected evidence, with mutual assistance from the police departments of St. Cloud and St. Joseph, as well as the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department.
City-council member Jeff Kolb called the incident “a horrible thing” that was a “little too close to home.”
Chief Hughes said the incident happened when several people began to argue and decided to “solve” their argument using guns. Those involved were presumably from out of town.
There were several similar shooting incidents in St. Cloud on that same weekend, and Hughes said those incidents were checked to see if there was any connection to the Sartell shooting. Apparently, there were no connections.
Hughes said such incidents can rarely if ever be stopped because they happen in the heat of a spontaneous argument when people decide to use guns to “solve” their problems.
He added that such shootings happen among people who know one another and shoot at one another, not at people the shooters don’t know.
Mayor Ryan Fitzthum said he heard from residents who were impressed by the swift response time of the Sartell police officers right after the shooting incident. He said that swift response in so many incidents by the Sartell Police Department just might dissuade others from committing crimes in the city.
Council member Kolb also brought up the subject of the recent mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas in which 19 young students and two teachers were killed by a lone gunman. Is Sartell prepared to prevent or to cope with anything that horrific?, Kolb asked Hughes.
The chief told the council the many ways the Sartell Police Department trains for the possibility of such crimes.
Officers undergo ongoing “active-shooter” training. The trained officers meet with businesses and other places in the latest ways to increase buildings’ security and ways to react if a shooter should somehow get into a building.
Are there ways to detect such mass shootings before they happen?, Kolb asked, adding that there are often “precursor” indications by a shooter, such as bragging on social media.
Hughes said the police often get tips from concerned students and parents about something they’d seen or read on social media or heard from other sources that could spell impending trouble. In addition, the department works with local FBI agents, county and state law enforcement and others who do ongoing monitoring of such dangers. Such interconnective communications can be virtually instant in a crisis or before a crisis.
Unfortunately, sometimes people just don’t believe threats and ominous warning signs they hear or happen to see or read on social media, thinking it’s all just untrue, outlandish threats. In all such cases (bluff or not), Hughes said people (parents and/or children) should report such things immediately by dialing 911 to local law enforcement agencies, including the Sartell Police Department.
Mayor Fitzthum praised the school resource officers who work daily in schools and keep open lines of communication with students, teachers and staff.
“They are so important,” said the mayor.