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Duluth standoff ends peacefully with arrest of shooting suspect

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

A standoff at 612 E. Sixth St, Duluth, between the Duluth Police Tactical Response team and a suspect in a fatal shooting ended shortly after 3 p.m. when the suspect gave himself up without a fight.

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The suspect was observed lying face-down in the front yard of the home about 3:05 p.m.

The incident ended peacefully after more than 40 officers swarmed the scene for hours. An armored vehicle and other specialized equipment sat outside the East Hillside home as police conducted negotiated with a man inside the house.

Authorities said the man is connected to an early-morning shooting at 3932 Grand Ave. in West Duluth. Police said they believed the suspect was armed.

Melanie Kingbird, a tenant of the house surrounded by police, identified the suspect as Stephen Cobenais, her cousin. She said he entered her home when she was sleeping.

"He doesn't live in there," Kingbird said of the house at 612 E. Sixth St. "He lives out West somewhere. I woke up and he was standing there. He said, 'Cuz, I need to talk to you.' "

Kingbird didn't say what Cobenais wanted to discuss with her.

At a 2:30 p.m. press conference, Duluth Deputy Police Chief John Beyer said the victim of the West Duluth homicide died of a single shot to his head.

He said police did not yet know a motive for the shooting or the relationship between the suspect and the 31-year-old Duluth victim.

Police are not releasing the man's name until relatives can be notified.

Officers were dispatched to 3930 Grand Ave. about 1:10 a.m. after witnesses heard a shot fired at the address. Three women were seen leaving the scene. Beyer said police have talked to the women and all of them said they saw parts or all of the incident.

The victim was dead at the scene. Beyer said that Cobenais, who rents the apartment where the shooting occurred, is the suspect in the homicide. Police have responded to address of the fourplex 22 times since Jan. 1 mostly for medical calls, unwanted persons and disturbances.

About 1 p.m., Kingbird said she heard on the police scanner that Cobenais was asking to talk to her. She asked police to let her speak to her cousin.

"We just want to talk to him," she shouted to police officers some distance away. "Let us talk to him. He's asking for us, but they won't let us talk to him."

The shooting took place about 1:30 a.m. today above the Nor-Floors Carpet and Flooring, where there are four apartment units. Ruth Norland, owner of Nor-Floors and the apartments, said Stephen Cobenais lives in the apartment where the shooting took place. She described him as a tall American Indian man in his 20s.

"I've never had any problems with him," Norland said. "He was very laid-back and nice to me. He was quiet but would come in and talk to me once in a while.

"It's so sad," she said. "He's young and I think he went off the deep end."

Kingbird's boyfriend, who declined to give his name, said Cobenais was due to be in court today for a hearing in a child custody dispute with his girlfriend. He said he believed the shooting was related somehow to that dispute.

An altercation broke out at the standoff scene between Kingbird and a woman Kingbird identified as Cobenais' ex-girlfriend. "This is all your fault," Kingbird shouted while striking the ex-girlfriend.

Cobenais, 24, has a criminal record in Hennepin and St. Louis counties.

He was convicted of robbery in 2000 and burglary in 2005, both in Hennepin County.

In St. Louis County, he was convicted of motor vehicle theft in 2005, assault on a police officer, assault causing substantial bodily harm, and domestic assault in 2007; and fifth-degree assault in 2008.

Kingbird said he is not the same Steven Cobenais who survived a shooting in 2005 at the Red Lake Indian Reservation.

Crystal Norris, who lives two doors from Nor-Floors at 3926 Grand Ave., said before she went to sleep last night she heard the sound of a loud party coming from the building.

When she woke up, her roommate told her she was standing outside when she twice heard someone yell: "No, please, don't," before hearing a gunshot. The roommate and her boyfriend then called 911, Norris said. After that, Norris said she was told three women ran east on Grand Avenue.

Norris said her roommates were told by police that someone was killed in the shooting.

Police have not yet released any information on the shooting.

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