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Suspect identified in shooting of two South St. Paul officers

After two South St. Paul police officers were wounded in a shooting on Thursday, July 19, Dustin Allen Bilderback, 33, was arrested on suspicion of four counts of attempted murder and four counts of use of deadly force against a peace officer. (Courtesy of Dakota County sheriff's office)1 / 2
South St. Paul Police Chief, Mike Messerich, right, listens to Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie speak at a press conference concerning the shooting of an officer in South St. Paul at City Hall Thursday, July 19. (Jean Pieri / St. Paul Pioneer Press)2 / 2

SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Gunshots rang out in a South St. Paul neighborhood on Thursday afternoon, leaving two police officers injured and a neighborhood shaken.

One of the officers needed to be hospitalized, though his injuries were not life threatening. There was an exchange of gunfire, but a 33-year-old man was taken into custody without being injured, according to police.

The officers were wounded as they responded to a routine call.

Dustin Allen Bilderback was booked into the Dakota County jail after he was arrested on suspicion of four counts of attempted murder and four counts of use of deadly force against a peace officer, according to a jail record. He was previously civilly committed for being mentally ill and dangerous, court records show.

The incident began just before 1 p.m. Thursday, when the officers went to a supportive housing facility for Everyday Living, which serves clients with mental health issues, according to its website.

The initial call Thursday was a follow-up to a missing persons report.

“Soon after that an altercation occurred, where the suspect obtained a shotgun and fired at our officers,” South St. Paul Police Chief Bill Messerich said. “Two officers were struck during the exchange of gunfire. Our officers did return fire, did not strike the suspect.”

The suspect dropped the gun and was taken into custody. He was the subject of the initial missing persons call, Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie said.

One of the two injured officers was taken to a hospital, where he was in stable condition, police said. That officer, who has 11 years of service, was struck in the shoulder. The other officer, who has six years of experience, was struck in the leg area, Leslie said. Neither officer was identified Thursday afternoon.

The Dakota County sheriff’s office is leading the investigation.

“We’re thankful that the officers are alive,” Leslie said. “We’ve very, very thankful.”

Bilderback was convicted of fifth-degree assault in 2009, disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property in 2007 and negligent storage of a firearm in 2003.

He was last civilly committed in 2009 to the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter, but a request was filed with the court Thursday to revoke his provisional discharge, according to a court record.