MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The family of a 15-year-old who was shot by police during a gunbattle that also left an officer wounded said the boy was an innocent bystander.
But police said Abdullah Simmons had a pistol in his hand and was running toward two police officers when he was shot and killed in an alley about 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
Sgt. John Delmonico, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, said that after Officer John Ochs shot the teen in the chest, he and his partner saw the silver gun near Simmons as they approached him.
Meanwhile, Officer Ryan Rivers was shot in the left leg as he approached a nearby house during the string of events. He was in fair condition Monday at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale. Three men -- ages 27, 20 and 18 -- were arrested after the gunbattle and being held in the Hennepin County jail pending charges.
Simmons' father, Reginald Jones, said his son, who was a chess champion, had gone to the store and did not have any involvement in the car chase and gunbattle. He said his son did not know the three men and police mistook the boy for someone else. The teen lived within a few blocks of the spot where he was killed.
"The police are lying, my son never did anything" Jones said. "Abdullah was not involved in any high-speed chase, gun shooting or anything of that nature -- I don't believe that at all. I believe Abdullah was just walking down the wrong place at the wrong time and he was assassinated."
Delmonico and Police Chief Robert Olson bristled at the family's statement that police shot a bystander.
"That's totally inconsistent with what I saw at the scene and the information I've been given," Olson said.
Ochs, a 10-year veteran with the police department, was on a three-day paid administrative leave, a standard procedure in such cases.
The events started after police received a call about shots being fired about 8:10 p.m. Officers chasing the suspects' car were fired upon and returned fire in at least two exchanges, Olson said.
The chase ended minutes later in an alley where officers and two suspects emerged from their vehicles, still firing. Delmonico said Simmons was the same person the officers saw run from the passenger side door of the car.
Officer Ochs shot Simmons in the alley, where the boy was pronounced dead.
Police said officers were attempting to administer first aid to Simmons and had called for an ambulance, but then officers reported hearing more gunfire. They alerted the ambulance that it wasn't safe enough to enter the scene, police said.
At virtually the same time Ochs shot Simmons, Officer Rivers and his partner were approaching the front of a house near the shooting scene and were met with gunfire from inside that home. Rivers -- a five-year veteran of the department -- was shot, Delmonico said.
Scores of officers surrounded the home, which did not have a phone. Olson said police negotiators used a bullhorn to talk with those inside. Around 10 p.m., two men walked out with their hands up and surrendered. Police then searched the house and found a third man hiding under a porch.
"It's a tragedy for the officer," Delmonico said. "There's not many jobs where you go to work on a Sunday afternoon with a fear of getting shot or killed."
Another officer was wounded in the arm by some shrapnel and was treated and released, police spokeswoman Cyndi Montgomery said.
Hennepin County sheriff's investigators have taken over the case, which is standard procedure in all fatal shootings involving city police in the county.
The shootings occurred less than two weeks after three other officers, including one from Minneapolis, and a suspect were wounded in a gun battle in neighboring Columbia Heights.
Law enforcement officials said Simmons had been cited this year on disorderly conduct charges and an assault charge. The officials said the criminal record is not considered extensive for a 15-year-old.
Investigators ask anyone with information on the incident to call the Hennepin County sheriff's office at (612) 348-3755 during normal business hours.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.