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Forum News Service, Published June 11 2013

Duluth police: 26-year-old man fatally shot by officers was armed

Two Duluth police officers fatally shot an armed man early today after a traffic crash.

Just before 2 a.m. officers responded to a report of a single-vehicle crash in the area of Orange Street and Arlington Avenue. The driver had fled the scene, according to a news release.

Two officers responded to the area of the 300 block of East Locust Street where the vehicle’s registered owner lives. One officer encountered a 26-year-old Duluth man armed with a handgun.

The officer radioed for assistance and shouted commands at the man. The second officer in the area arrived to help, and both officers repeated loud verbal commands to attempt to get the subject to comply. The encounter lasted for more than three minutes. When the officers attempted to take the man into custody he reached for the area where the gun was located. Both officers fired weapons, hitting the man who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police have not released his name pending positive identification and full family notifications.

One of the officers involved is a five-year veteran of department and the second officer is a four-year veteran. Neither officer was injured. The officers will be placed on paid administrative leave which is standard procedure in these cases.

The Duluth Police Department requested the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate this incident. Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to contact the BCA at (651) 793-7000.

The police department held a news conference at 3 p.m.

The last time a Duluth police officer fatally shot a suspect was on Aug. 28, 2011, when Sgt. Brad Wick shot robbery suspect Brian Cayce Butala in the Gary-New Duluth area.

Acting on a tip, police located Butala and a female companion in Gary. A vehicle chase ended when the pair’s car crashed into a tree. They entered a nearby house, apparently shooting the resident in the leg as they entered. Wick followed, and he and Butala exchanged fire. Wick was not hit; Butala was hit by several bullets before collapsing.

St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin determined that Wick used justifiable force when he shot and killed Butala.

The officers involved in today's shooting has been placed on paid leave, which is standard procedure, as the shooting is investigated.