Crime, Law and Justice

Cloquet police: Motive unknown in motel shooting that left 3 dead including suspect

Five people stand near a podium for a conversation.
A press conference is held at the Cloquet City Hall and Police Department Tuesday, addressing a shooting that occurred Monday evening at Big Lake Road and Minnesota Highway 33 near the Super 8 motel in Cloquet.
Erica Dischino for MPR News

Updated 3:45 p.m.

Cloquet police on Tuesday morning said they still do not know a motive in the Monday evening shooting at a Super 8 motel that left three dead including the suspected shooter.

The shooting on the city’s south side prompted a shelter-in-place warning of an “active shooter” for a couple of hours, a warning that Cloquet Police Chief Derek Randall was unprecedented for the small community in his 20 years with the force there.

A 911 call around 6:30 p.m. from a hotel employee said they'd found a coworker, a 22-year-old woman, had been attacked. She was found near the front desk with a gunshot wound.

Police also found a 35-year-old Deer River man dead in the parking lot in his truck with multiple gunshot wounds.

Randall said their biggest concern at first was finding the suspect, and video surveillance “was crucial.”

"They were able to access the video surveillance and recall that information to see what what was on there, which led to a phone call to me saying that they were confident that this surveillance footage showed the shooter died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound," he said.

Police found a 32-year-old man from Ramsey dead nearby with a handgun next to him. He’s believed to be the shooter as police said video from the motel’s surveillance cameras showed him killing the other two. The entire shooting lasted about 10 minutes, Randall said.

Randall said they did not yet know if there was any connection between the shooter and the victims, but he did say both men were guests at the motel.

A police chief
Cloquet Police Chief Derek Randall provides a statement to the media during a press conference at the Cloquet City Hall and Police Department Tuesday.
Erica Dischino for MPR News

He did not reveal the identities of the shooter or victims, but said he would within the next 24 hours after notifying their families.

Police on Monday night said there is no ongoing threat to the public. The Super 8 motel is located just uphill from Highway 33, a busy road and the city’s main commercial strip. It’s adjacent to an AmericInn motel, an Aldi grocery store and a Perkins restaurant, as well as residential neighborhoods on two sides.

At a news conference Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz praised the Cloquet Police Department’s effective response to the shooting and cited a need for reducing gun violence.

“We cannot live in a world where we just accept that this is a normal occurrence. It is not,” Walz said. “If there’s anything we can do or learn from this, we will.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

A police officer walks to a vehicle.
Cloquet area law enforcement and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension secure the scene Tuesday morning.
Erica Dischino for MPR News
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