This story comes to you from MPR News, through a partnership with Sahan Journal
A 911 transcript released by the city of Minneapolis Monday afternoon documents the dramatic minutes after Tekle Sundberg allegedly fired a weapon into his neighbor’s apartment.
Sundberg’s family said he preferred to go by his Ethiopian name, Tekle Sundberg, instead of his legal name, Andrew Tekle Sundberg. The 20-year-old was fatally shot by Minneapolis police SWAT snipers after a six-hour standoff about 4:30 a.m. on July 14 in the Seward neighborhood. The city has not yet publicly released police body camera footage of the shooting.
During the 911 call, a woman later identified as Arabella Foss-Yarbrough, told dispatchers that at least two bullets had been fired through her apartment at 904 21st Avenue South, and went straight through the wall. She said one of the bullets may have grazed her, although she told the dispatcher she wasn’t bleeding.
Sahan Journal has reached out several times to Foss-Yarbrough, but has not been able to connect with her for an interview about her experience.
“I don’t know if the bullet hit me or if it was like, glass, that hit me cause it went through my wall and it hit a glass vase on my table,” she said.
She told the dispatcher that she has two children. She told one child, “Just stay on the ground, baby, stay over here.”
Foss-Yarbrough told the dispatcher that she had problems with the man who lived across the hall.
Early in the call, Foss-Yarbrough said she has a license to carry a gun and said, “I don’t know if I should shoot back.”
“I would not recommend that,” the dispatcher replied. “If you keep your gun put away, it’ll make it more clear to the officers where the shots are coming from and where they’re going.”
When police arrived, Foss-Yarbrough told the dispatcher that the apartment building’s buzzers were broken and she didn’t have a way to let police in without going downstairs. As police tried to get into the building, the dispatcher told her not to do anything that made her feel unsafe, and to stay behind a locked door.
When officers arrived, the dispatcher reported hearing more shots. Foss-Yarbrough initially resisted opening her front door, but police soon escorted her outside, and told her to take cover behind a car before the call ends.
On July 16, Foss-Yarbrough chided a crowd, which included Sundberg’s parents, that gathered outside the apartment building.
“I’m a woman of color,” she said. “If I would have lost my life, would you do this for me?”
Sundberg’s father, Mark Sundberg, offered support for Foss-Yarbrough and her children, and said his heart goes out to them. Family members have said Sundberg had been experiencing a mental health crisis when he was killed.
Authorities haven’t said yet why the police snipers, identified as officers Aaron Pearson and Zachary Seraphine, shot Sundberg after hours of attempted negotiations.
Personnel records for both men were also released Monday afternoon. Pearson, an officer hired in 2014, had eight internal affairs complaints, with all but two closed without discipline.
Pearson served in the United States Army Reserves as a combat engineer for eight years, including service in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He received a medal of commendation from the department for a 2016 incident where he and three other officers detained a man with a knife. The awards committee said Pearson “showed great restraint.”
Seraphine, who was hired in 2016, has had three internal affairs complaints with one open complaint. Seraphine was chosen three times as the precinct officer of the month, including following a response to a 911 call from a suicidal woman in 2020 that his supervisors credited for saving her life. He received a medal of commendation in 2020 for another incident where he and other officers entered a burning building to help evacuate residents.
Both officers have extensive training in SWAT tactics, according to their training records. Both officers were part of the raid that led to the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Amir Locke in February, although neither officer fired his weapon during that encounter.
Sundberg’s family has called on the city to release video footage of the shooting. City officials have said they’re working to comply with the family’s request.