A white Minnesota security officer confessed that he made up a story about a black man shooting him to cover up the fact that he shot himself, officials said earlier this week.
Brent Patrick Ahlers, a security officer for St. Catherine University, now faces charges for filing a false police report and for committing a misdemeanor, reports the Minneapolis Tribune. He was released from jail Thursday after being booked.
“He was nervous about losing his job due to the fact that he had his gun at work, and what had occurred, so he made up the story to cover what had happened,” police spokesman Mike Ernster told local media Wednesday.
Ahlers was guarding the St. Catherine University campus when the gun he was carrying discharged, wounding him in his shoulder Tuesday night. The school’s security guards usually don’t carry guns on the campus, so Ahlers made up a story about a black man shooting him out of fear he would get fired over the incident. He told the St. Paul Police Department that a black man in a navy sweatshirt had shot him.
Out of concern for student safety, the police placed the campus on lockdown in an effort to search for the black man with a “short afro,” as Ahlers described him.
“It had basically 1,800 students held captive in their dorm rooms at St. Catherine’s, it had residents of the Mac-Groveland and Highland Park communities fearing they would be hurt in their homes,” Ernster told the public.
Fifty-five police officers, along with K-9 dogs, searched the campus and the surrounding community for the mysterious black gunman late Tuesday night. The search continued into Wednesday, when Ahlers told officers that he had accidentally shot himself.
The local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said that the incident just further reinforces racial stereotypes about black men.
“That’s what black people live with,” said Dianne Binns, president of the St. Paul NAACP. “We’ve been lynched, and we’ve been put in jail to find out later you haven’t done it. That’s the sad thing about it. It hasn’t stopped.”
The college placed Ahlers on paid leave and then fired him Thursday because he no longer reflected the school’s values, the college said in a statement.
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