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Man slain by St. Paul police had fired on cops, BCA says

ST. PAUL -- The 33-year-old man fatally shot by St. Paul police Monday had shot a woman and fired at officers before being killed, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced Tuesday.Jaffort Demont Smith, 33, of St. Paul died of multi...

ST. PAUL - The 33-year-old man fatally shot by St. Paul police Monday had shot a woman and fired at officers before being killed, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced Tuesday.
Jaffort Demont Smith, 33, of St. Paul died of multiple gunshot wounds. Smith had shot 49-year-old Beverly Joan Flowers, who remains hospitalized, according to the BCA. Police indicated in a statement that the woman had been critically injured.
Residents of the North End neighborhood where Smith was killed early Monday morning said they heard many gunshots. Two reported seeing the injured woman with blood pouring from her face, and another said he saw an officer pull her to safety behind a squad car.
During the incident, an officer reported, “We’ve got shots fired. … We’re getting shots fired at us,” according emergency radio traffic posted by MN Police Clips. “Drop it! Drop the gun!” an officer could be heard shouting.
The incident began when officers had responded to Rapid Recovery, a towing company on Acker Street near Jackson Street, at about 3:30 a.m. in response to a 911 call about a man with a gun, according to the BCA.
“According to the preliminary investigation, a woman had entered the business shortly before 3:30 a.m. followed by a man now identified as Smith,” the BCA said in a statement. “Smith displayed a gun and took the woman back outside.”
Smith shot the woman and fled, and officers pursued him to the back yard of a home just south of Buffalo and Genesee streets, “where Smith fired at the officers and ignored repeated calls for him to drop his weapon,” according to the BCA. “At one point, officers fired, fatally striking Smith.”
Minnesota court records show Smith had a long list of criminal offenses over the past decade. His most recent felony convictions were for theft and gun possession cases in 2011 in Duluth. He was sentenced to five years in prison and served nearly four years concurrent with Montana prison sentences for theft, failure to register and escape.
Smith was also convicted of domestic assault in 2010 in St. Louis County and making terroristic threats in 2006 in Rice County.
Jodi Stewart, who said she was a close friend of Smith’s for about a year, said Smith had been trying to put his past behind him. He’d been working hard to get his driving record cleared up and get a driver’s license again, so he could get a job, she said.
When she found out Tuesday that Smith had been killed and heard the circumstances, Stewart said, “I just didn’t believe it. For him to even have a gun is outrageous to me. … He’s always been very cautious of not being around them and not having anything to do with them because of his past record.”
Stewart said she’d never heard of Flowers before. Two relatives of Flowers said they were unaware that she had been shot until a Pioneer Press reporter contacted the family Tuesday. They initially had trouble getting information about her condition and weren’t immediately allowed to see her. They also said they did not know who Smith was.
Kathy Wuorinen, St. Paul interim police chief, said in a statement Tuesday: “Critical incidents are incredibly trying for officers, whose lives are forever changed in an instant. The officers involved in this incident acted bravely in the face of incredible danger. Even while being shot at, they were able to rescue a woman from harm’s way.
“Tragically a man lost his life, a woman was critically injured, both their families and our officers will have to carry that with them for the rest of their lives. No officer goes to work expecting to take a life, but they know it is a possibility.
“This incident has shaken the department, the officers, the family of the person killed and the community. I hope we can all come together to care for and support one another - and ultimately keep our city and our officers safe.”
Stewart said she doesn’t know why Smith had gone to the towing company. She last talked to him Sunday, when he called to wish her a happy Mother’s Day.
“He was an awesome guy who loved to laugh and joke and have fun,” Stewart said. “He was always happy and smiling.” Smith was a father and especially close with his mother and sister, she said.
Four officers who fired their weapons during the incident have been identified as John Corcoran, who’s been with the department for 18 years; Mark Grundhauser, four years with the department; Jeffery Korus, five years with the department; and Michael Tschida, six years with the department.
All of the officers have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard in such cases. Two have been involved in past shootings.
The St. Paul police department has begun asking an outside agency to investigate officer-involved shootings, which is why the BCA is handling the case. When the investigation is complete, the BCA said it will present the findings to the Ramsey County attorney’s office. The county attorney’s office convenes grand juries to review fatal officer-involved shootings in Ramsey County.
Jaime DeLage contributed to this report.

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