Derham Hall and Our Lady of Victory Chapel at St Catherine University in St Paul, Minnesota

Photo via McGhiever/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA)

College security guard shoots himself, blames fictional Black man

The school went on lockdown looking for the made-up suspect.


Samantha Grasso


Posted on Sep 15, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 5:18 pm CDT

Not wanting to face discipline for bringing a firearm to work, a white college security guard who shot himself on duty, sent Minnesota police on an hours-long search for a fictional Black man who he said attacked him.

Brent Ahlers, 25, a now-former security guard at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, has been arrested and booked in Ramsey County jail for falsely reporting a crime on Tuesday night, telling police a Black man in a navy sweatshirt with a “short Afro” had shot him, according to the Washington Post. The Catholic university went into lockdown while 55 cops, four dogs, and a State Patrol aircraft searched the campus.

On Wednesday, Ahlers recanted his story, telling St. Paul police that he was nervous about being fired over having his gun at work and shooting himself. However, despite Ahlers’ best efforts to scapegoat his shoulder wound on a nonexistent Black man, he was no longer employed by St. Catherine as of Thursday. He is expected to make a full recovery from his self-inflicted injury.

Ahlers claim that a Black man had shot him, not a white man, is not without harm. Students and alumnae debated the implications of Ahlers’ crime, in part that his narrative helps perpetuate this idea that Black people, particularly men, are sole perpetrators of crime and should be feared.

Tyrone Terrill, president of the St. Paul African-American Leadership Council, told the Star Tribune that Ahlers’ claims put Black youth and police in danger. In making a false report, Ahlers put targets on the backs of Black young adults and took police resources away from other patrols who could have needed backup in responding to actual crimes.

“The statements attributed to the former employee concerning the race of an alleged suspect are deeply troubling and do not reflect our values,” a statement from St. Catherine read.

H/T the Washington Post

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*First Published: Sep 15, 2017, 11:56 am CDT