A St. Catherine University security guard who lied to police about being shot by a Black man earlier this year won’t face any jail time — for now.
A Ramsey County district judge on Monday, Dec. 18, ordered former guard Brent Patrick Ahlers to pay nearly $4,500 in restitution to cover expenses incurred by local police who spent hours searching for the imaginary culprit, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported.
However, the judge gave Ahlers an opportunity to avoid seeing the inside of a jail cell if he fulfills certain requirements imposed by the courts. Among them is mandatory attendance at six sessions of a group headed by District Judge George Stephenson for men, many of them African-American, who’ve had run-ins with the criminal justice system.
Following the six sessions, Ahlers must report back to the judge on what he learned about how his actions affected the Black community.
“I’ll expect you’ll have something to say that’s a little bit more than ‘I’m sorry,'” presiding Judge Nicole Starr said.
If Ahlers fails to meet the requirements, he’ll be sentenced to 60 days in jail.
The conditions stem from a Sept. 12 incident when the then-college security guard called 911 to report that he’d been shot by a suspicious person who confronted him in a wooded area on campus that evening. Ahlers told police that the assailant was an African-American male with a “short afro,” adding that the man had opened fire after Ahlers busted him for smoking pot, according to an account given by Ahlers’ attorney.
The security guard’s claims sparked an intense manhunt involving 55 officers, four police dogs and a State Patrol aircraft, according to the paper. St. Catherine was even placed on temporary lockdown.
A day later while recovering in the hospital, Ahlers confessed that he had fabricated the entire story. He told investigators he’d accidentally shot himself while handling his own handgun. So, he lied for fear of losing his job.
Ahlers was later charged and pleaded guilty to one count of falsely reporting a crime, the Pioneer Press reported and was fired from the university following the incident.
Locals angered by the former security guard’s actions argued that his decision to implicate a Black man only added to the long history of African-Americans being wrongly accused of crimes they did not commit. They also charged that his false report put Black men in danger as authorities worked to locate the suspect.
“He should have gotten the maximum on everything,” Tyrone Terrill, president of the African-American Leadership Council, told the newspaper. “When you say you have an active shooter in the community … it’s only by the grace of God that nobody got hurt.”
“It’s not going to change him,” Terrill said of the mandatory group sessions, which he attends himself. “But I think he will feel the wrath of our community.”
Ahler’s has since apologized for his actions.