Published September 02 2012
Parents angry after Minnesota police shoot unarmed sonWOODBURY, Minn. – The parents of a St. Paul man said they were outraged that officers gunned down their unarmed son early Friday as he fled a hotel room where a gunman was holding seven people hostage.
“They shot my son down like a dog,” said Tawana Henderson, the mother of 19-year-old Mark Eric Henderson. “... If I never saw another police officer again, I would be happy.”
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the circumstances behind Henderson’s death. He was shot several times as he ran from a room at a Red Roof Inn in Woodbury that’s notorious for criminal activity.
The victim’s father, Mark Henderson Sr., said he was especially upset that three officers all fired at his son. “If (suspects) don’t have a gun, aren’t they trained not to shoot?” he asked.
Henderson was one of nine people in the room early Friday. The suspect, a 24-year-old from Maplewood, is being held in the Washington County Jail on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct, aggravated robbery and kidnapping. He is expected to be charged in coming days.
“We know there was a lot of criminal activity that was going on inside that hotel room – serious criminal activity,” Police Chief Lee Vague said. “We know people were assaulted.”
He said investigators were still trying to piece together precisely what happened. The BCA said Mark Henderson had quickly emerged from the room and rushed toward them. Police believed he had a weapon, and when he refused officers’ commands, they fired, the BCA said.
BCA spokeswoman Jill Oliveira said it wasn’t clear exactly what commands police issued. She said that was under investigation. The three officers who fired their weapons were put on paid administrative leave, which is standard.
Tawana Henderson said any gunshots under those circumstances were inappropriate.
“In a hostage situation, you don’t just open fire,” she said.
The victim’s sister, Ashley Henderson, said she wanted people to know her brother wasn’t a bad person.
“He didn’t deserve to die like this, trying to save his own life,” she said. “And he’s never coming back.”