Police say bogus 911 call made to lure officers into ambush

11:29 PM, Aug 22, 2012   |    comments
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Marsenior Pede Johnson

MINNEAPOLIS - A man who reported he'd been robbed Tuesday night near Minnehaha Creek was, in fact, setting a trap for police. 

That's what the suspect told investigators who interviewed him at HCMC, where he was treated after being shot by one of the two officers he confronted.  

"He admitted that he'd made the fake 9-1-1 call with the intent to draw officers to him and harm them," Sgt. William Palmer, the  Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson, told reporters.

One of the officers, Katherine Hammes, was also held overnight at HCMC, after being treated for a knife wound to her back and a head laceration and a concussion.

"They are extremely fortunate, considering how it could have ended." 

The man, later identified as Marsenior Johnson, called 9-1-1 at 11:20 p.m. and said he'd been robbed at knifepoint by three strangers, as he walked along West Minnehaha Parkway. It's a relatively crime-free area with higher than average property values.

That roadway, which runs on either side of Minnehaha Creek, is controlled by the Minneapolis Parks Board because of the jogging and biking trails along the creek. Officer Hammes and Officer James Huber, her patrol partner, were dispatched to the scene to check out the complaint.

They found Johnson standing near the south end of a foot bridge that crosses Minnehaha Creek near the intersection of the parkway and Bryant Ave. South.  As they approached Johnson, he turned on them, according to Sgt. Palmer.

Investigators say the Johnson lunged at the Officer Huber with the knife, but that officer's ballistic armor vest stopped the blade.  Johnson then reportedly ran at Officer Hammes with the knife, and was stabbed in the back as she ducked.

She also hit her head hard on the pavement during the scuffle that ensued. According to police reports, Johnson was lunging at Hammes again when Officer Huber opened fire, wounding Johnson.

At that point Huber and Hammes administered first aid to the suspect, until paramedics arrived at the scene.

The 38-year-old suspect is recovering at HCMC and will be held by the Hennepin County Jail when he's released. Hospital employees later found another knife in Johnson's clothing, according to Palmer.

"We have no idea what his motive was," Palmer said.

Johnson has a history of convictions for felony theft and other crimes dating back to 2003. Hennepin County Jail records show that he was arrested as recently as August 16th, booked into the jail and later released.

Both officers were placed on administrative leave, standard practice after an officer-involved shooting. But such events are rare. The last time a Parks Police officer fired his gun in the line of duty was 1977.

"The idea of someone posing as a victim, and attacking the officer, is not a common occurrence," Lt. Jason Ohotto of the Minneapolis Park Police told KARE.

"Police officers often get into physical confrontations in the process of arresting people, but not at this level and not to this degree."

Parks Board Superintendent Jayne Miller issued a statement Thursday commending the offices for their actions.

"This incident is a testament to the dangers police officers face on a daily basis," Miller wrote. "Officers James Huber and Katherine Hammes responded to a robbery report, went to render aid and were viciously attacked."

She continued, "These officers reacted swiftly and courageously and we are extremely grateful they were not more seriously injured or killed."

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )

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