A white St. Catherine University security officer has been fired after shooting himself in the shoulder and falsely claiming a black man shot him.
On Sept. 12, Brent Patrick Ahlers, 25, was in a heavily wooded area near the southwest side of the university, which is located in St. Paul, Minnesota. According to The Washington Post, the handgun that Ahlers brought to work discharged, shooting him in the shoulder.
Knowing that guards typically aren't allowed weapons, he was afraid to lose his job and decided to fabricate a story in which he was shot by a black man.
He told St. Paul police that he was shot in the shoulder by a black man with a "short Afro" and a navy sweatshirt. The school was immediately placed on lockdown and 55 police officers, four police dogs, and a State Patrol aircraft searched the campus for the suspect.
Police decided to not publicly release a description of the suspect, as they were immediately skeptical of Ahlers' story.
Indeed, nearly 12 hours later, police reported that there was no threat to public safety and students and residents could resume their daily activities.
"[Ahlers] 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," said police spokesman Mike Ernster.
St. Catherine President ReBecca Roloff confirmed that Ahlers had been fired.
"The statements attributed to the former employee concerning the race of an alleged suspect are deeply troubling and do not reflect our values," she said in a statement.
St. Paul's black community is now speaking out in condemnation of Ahlers' fabricated story.
St. Paul NAACP President Dianne Binns told the Pioneer Press that putting the blame for shootings on black men is "nothing new."
"It’s been happening for decades to African-American men in America," she said. "St. Kate’s said they’re sorry, but they should come out and have more remorse and responsibility. That was their employee."
Ahlers was taken to the hospital to treat his gunshot wound. He is expected to make a full recovery, according to the Star Tribune.
Police have arrested him for falsely reporting a crime. He was released from the Ramsey County jail Sept. 14 and is expected back in court for his arraignment on Oct. 31.
"It's a sickening thing," said St. Paul African-American Leadership Council President Tyrone Terrill. "He put not only black youth at risk, he put St. Paul police and other law enforcement at risk with his lie."