Hard to believe it’s been twenty years since Guy Harvey Baker – a Gulf War Marine veteran with, clearly, mental illness issues – killed officers Ron Ryan, Tim Jones, and a police dog named Laser.
The PiPress has a fairly good retrospective of the events – with one crucial omission:
Ryan, 26, was checking on a man — Guy Harvey Baker — who was sleeping in a car in a parking lot at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood about 7 a.
He picked up a .38-caliber revolver from his lap and shot Ryan.
Scores of officers joined the search for Ryan’s killer. Jones had the day off, but he came in to help.
Laser picked up Baker’s trail about 10 a.m. on Conway Street, not far from Johnson Parkway.
Mara Gottfried’s story is excellent. But she leaves out how the police actually found Baker’s “trail” on Conway later that morning – and, in a way, the story of a man who is both the story’s unsung hero and third (human) victim.
Lyle Granlund - 48 years old, at the time – was having breakfast with his kids on the upper level of a three-plex he owned across from the parking lot. One of his sons yelled that there’d been a shooting. Granlund grabbed a handgun and loaded three rounds – all he could grab at the moment – and went to his window. He saw officer Ryan on the ground, and saw Baker driving toward another woman, standing in the doorway of a nearby apartment building, apparently getting ready to rub out the only known witness to the shooting.
Granlund - an expert marksman – pondered taking out Baker. But he held up, worried that the Ramsey County attorney, the infamously anti-gun Tom Foley, would prosecute him. So he opted to fire two shots through Baker’s back window, shattering it and leaving the rounds (intentionally) in Baker’s dashboard, to hopefully scare Baker off and mark the car for the police. He saved his third round, in case Baker decided to come for him. But no – Baker accelerated away from the scene of the Ryan shooting…
…and it was by the shattered window that the SPPD found Baker’s trail, a couple hours later, nearby on Conway Street.
I interviewed Granlund later that year, for the old Gun Owners Action League (a predecessor of GOCRA) newsletter. Granlund told me that while the SPPD remained officially mum about his contribution to that day’s search, more than one senior Saint Paul cop had come to his door in the following days, paying their respects to his effort to save their fellow officer. A lieutenant left him his SPPD tie pin – a gesture that Granlund, in our interview, still found deeply touching.
I wrote about Granlund again, almost ten years ago, in a piece that includes a lot of useful background and a link to a now-disappeared column by Ruben Rosario.
Granlund was right, of course; Foley did try to prosecute him. Their attempt to get him for “reckless discharge” foundered when the police lab found Granlund’s two rounds exactly where he said they’d be in Baker’s car. The Ramsey County Attorney’s office dropped its attempt to prosecute Granlund only when the SPPD told Foley he’d get no cooperation from the police. Someone listing himself as a retired SPPD cop tells the story in this thread.
Oh yeah – and Granlund was denied a Minnesota carry permit; the SPPD that (quietly) regarded him as a hero also didn’t think he had any reason to need one.
Gottfried picks up the story from 20 years ago today.
Baker heard the dog whining outside a fish house where he was hiding, saw Jones through the window and, through the side of the shack, shot the 36-year-old officer with the gun had stolen from Ryan. When Laser bit his leg, he shot the dog, too.
No prosecutor will ever issue an indictment, and no jury will ever hear the case – but in a very real if indirect way, Officer Jones was killed by official gun-control hysteria.
The tragedy didn’t end that day. When I spoke with Granlund, probably in September or October, he was clearly upset that he’d not been able to save Jones by killing Baker. It went much deeper than that; Granlund spent the next ten years depressed about the episode. He died in 2004 of a heart attack, at age 58, and is buried in the same cemetery as Officer Ryan.
The lesson? Let nobody tell you that an armed citizen can’t do immense good; one, and God only knows how many more, people are alive today because of Granlund’s action.
And let no weasel government official get away with terrorizing the law-abiding citizen without a fight – preferably ending with a prosecutor sent to the unemployment line at the polls.
The families of the slain officers are the main focus of Gottfried’s story, of course. I’ll urge prayers – or whatever your worldview does – for the families on what has to be a miserable anniversary.