Student who shot himself an Iraq vet

Published 10:15 am Thursday, February 5, 2015

By Dan Nienaber

Mankato Free Press

MANKATO — Within minutes after dealing with a high-speed chase about two miles away, 10 Mankato police officers and other law enforcement converged on the Minnesota State University campus Monday to find a man who had threatened to kill himself.

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Several of the officers had received training on how to talk suicidal people down, take them into custody and get them the help they need. The two officers who finally found Timothy Lee Anderson, 27, sitting in a chair on the second floor of MSU’s Memorial Library at about 4:30 p.m. Monday never had an opportunity to put that training into action.

“They didn’t get a chance to say anything to him,” Cmdr. Matt DuRose of the Department of Public Safety said Tuesday.

As soon as the officers spotted Anderson, he shot himself in the head with a handgun. The officers suspected he had a gun but weren’t sure. He had it concealed until the officers saw him and they didn’t see it until it was too late.

The officers immediately took Anderson from the chair he was in, secured the gun and began doing whatever they could to keep him alive, DuRose said. An ambulance crew, already on scene, pronounced Anderson dead 10 minutes later.

DuRose estimated about six students in the immediate area witnessed the incident.

Anderson’s ex-wife called 911 after she dropped him off in front of the Centennial Student Union, across from the sunken parking lot. He had told her he was planning to study at the library; then he made threats to shoot himself.

Police knew he had access to a handgun, but Anderson’s ex-wife never saw it. No one else reported seeing a man with a handgun as the 40-minute search was taking place. Even after the incident, none of the witnesses in the library reported seeing a handgun before the shot was fired, DuRose said.

A university alert to “shelter in place” was never issued. That’s a tool that is rarely used and students and staff are not required to shelter during those situations, said Dan Benson, MSU spokesman. Likely reasons for a warning not being sent out is no one reported seeing a gun and Anderson hadn’t threatened to hurt anyone other than himself.

There were enough officers available to search the library and the student union at the same time. They knew what Anderson was wearing and what type of backpack he was carrying. They also had a description for his size and hair color.