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

Published 4:28 pm Tuesday, January 9, 2024

By Mark Zdechlik and MPR News Staff

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.

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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.

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.

Gov. Tim Walz issued a statement saying he is “praying for those killed in another senseless act of gun violence.”