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Weapons investigation led to fatal police shooting

Law enforcement officials offered few new details Thursday about an officer-involved shooting late Wednesday in Cottage Grove that left one man dead and another wounded after a traffic stop on the city's west side.

A spokesperson revealed little during a midday press conference about what led up to the shooting that Cottage Grove police say occurred shortly before 11 p.m. on Hadley Avenue near Belden Boulevard.

Members of the Washington County Special Response team pulled the vehicle over as part of an ongoing felony weapons investigation, said Minnesota Department of Public Safety spokesman Doug Neville. The female driver immediately surrendered, but two male passengers did not.

The front seat passenger stepped out of the vehicle, Neville said, and four of seven special response team members opened fire, killing the man.

The back-seat passenger was wounded and was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. His condition was not immediately known.

It is not known whether the man had a weapon, Neville said, and he declined to say whether weapons were recovered from the scene. Authorities said a search warrant was executed at a St. Paul Park residence Thursday morning in connection with the investigation.

The special response team is made up of law enforcement officers from nine Washington County agencies, including Cottage Grove. The city's deputy public safety director, Pete Koerner, said Thursday Cottage Grove officers were involved in the incident.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is leading the investigation into the shooting, the second officer-involved shooting in Cottage Grove this year.

Authorities are "still trying to determine what happened between the time (the suspect who was killed) got out of the car and when shots were fired," Neville said near the scene.

Neville described the suspect killed by law enforcement officers as "a known felon."

The back-seat passenger and driver were both arrested, officials said. No charges have been filed.

The identities of those involved have not been released.

Carol Brown was getting ready for bed late Wednesday night at her home on Hadley Avenue less than 50 yards from where the shooting took place when she said she heard a loud pop outside.

"At first I head a pop; it could've been firecrackers," she said. "Then I saw a flash, and pretty soon I heard sirens and saw lights."

Roughly 10 to 15 minutes later, Brown said, she heard another 10 loud pops right outside her house and told her grandchildren in the home to get on the floor.

"I said, 'Guys, get down. They're firing!'" Brown said, standing in her front yard as yellow police tape fluttered in the wind along her street.

Since 1972, when she moved into her rambler home on Hadley Avenue, Brown said "this is the first time we've had gunshots on our street."

Angel Martinez also heard "eight to 10" shots fired late Wednesday while he was watching TV in the living room of his home six blocks away on Blossom Lane in St. Paul Park, just over the border from Cottage Grove.

"I thought it was firecrackers, because the neighbors have been setting them off," he said. "But I guess it was gunfire."

The identities of the suspects involved in the shooting and the law enforcement agencies involved would be released tomorrow, said Neville of the state public safety department.