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UPDATE: Motive not clear in deadly shooting in Cloquet

Three people from three different cities were killed Monday in a suspected double murder/suicide at the Super 8 hotel in Cloquet that forced the evacuation of the hotel and a community lockdown as authorities searched for a suspect.

That search ended on hotel property, where the suspected shooter was found dead with evidence suggesting a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police continue to search for a motive.

"Last night was a very difficult night for our community," said Cloquet Police Chief Derek Randall in a Tuesday morning news conference, calling it a tragedy. He shared details of the incident with more than a dozen newspaper, television and radio reporters gathered at Cloquet City Hall.

An employee of the Super 8 hotel in Cloquet called 911 at 6:34 p.m. on Jan. 8 to report they'd found a fellow hotel employee who looked like she'd been attacked, Randall said.

Cloquet police responded within 3 minutes and found a 22-year-old Cloquet woman with a gunshot wound. She was transported to St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth, where she succumbed to her injuries, Cloquet police chief Derek Randall said in a Tuesday morning press conference.

As officers investigated, they found a 35-year-old Deer River man deceased with multiple gunshot wounds in a car in the hotel parking lot. Additionally, a 32-year-old man from Ramsay, Minnesota, was found dead outside on the hotel property with evidence suggesting a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A handgun was located next to the man's body.

Using hotel video, police eventually confirmed that the shooter was dead and the shelter-in-place order was lifted. Randall said the woman was shot first, then the man in the car. Police believe the two men were both guests at the hotel. Most of the shooting was captured on video, but not everything, Randall said.

"The biggest concern for us was not knowing where the suspect was as we responded," Randall said, adding that police officers and Carlton County deputies were able to clear the hotel quickly.

Investigators have no information yet on a motive for the shooting or whether there is a connection between the suspect and victims.

Law enforcement executed search warrants Tuesday morning, Randall said, also confirming that police had personal possessions of the shooter and victims, including cell phones, that might shed light on what led to the shooting.

Police issued online and text warnings to local residents just after 7 p.m., telling people to remain home with locked doors and to shelter in place as there was an active shooter incident in progress with the suspect still unaccounted for.

"According to the video surveillance, the entire incident prior to law enforcement arriving lasted approximately 10 minutes," Randall said. Identities of the three people will be released Wednesday, he said.

Police and investigators from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension worked overnight to process the crime scene, an ongoing process, he said.

Both Randall and Cloquet Mayor Roger Maki extended sympathy to the families and victims of the shooting, along with thanks to all the public safety partners that responded. Randall said a psychologist that works with public safety in the region came to the staging area, and attended a debriefing afterward for law enforcement and first responders.

In the hours following the shooting, the parking lot outside the hotel and the nearby Aldi store was a sea of flashing lights, as law enforcement and emergency responders from Cloquet Area Fire District, Carlton County Sheriff's Office, St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, Minnesota State Patrol, Fond Du Lac Police, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Minnesota Homeland Security Emergency Management, Mayo Ambulance and staff from the Drug Enforcement Agency responded along with Cloquet police Monday.

An additional 15-20 officers gathered around a mobile command center outside the L&M Fleet Farm store a few blocks away, where they prepared for the worst while tracking live video from the scene on an external screen.

At 8:30 p.m. Commander Wade Rasch of the St. Louis County Sheriff's office dismissed the officers at L&M and left the scene with the trailer and a massive armored vehicle.

Additionally, the police chief noted that the Cloquet Human Development Center is offering walk-in therapy services today for anyone affected by the incident at their 1102 Cloquet Avenue offices. The HDC crisis line is 1-844-722-4724.

"I assume there will be crisis meetings down the road," Randall said.

Additionally, the Fond du Lac Behavioral Health Department Mobile Crisis Team and therapists are available to anyone in the community that would like to reach out for someone to talk with.

Call 218-655-3669 or 218-878-3756 for immediate assistance. People can also call the psychiatric nurse practitioner at the Min No Aya Win medical clinic at 218-878-2190 or 218-878-2120.

Look for more in Friday's issue of the Pine Knot News.