MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A University of St. Thomas student set to graduate Saturday was one of the two people killed in an overnight shooting in downtown Minneapolis that also injured eight others, according to the school.
The university said Charlie Johnson was a mechanical engineering major.
“Our community is shocked and saddened by the news of Charlie’s death,” UST President Julie Sullivan said in a statement. “We grieve with his family and friends and pray for their comfort. On a day he and his family should have been celebrating his graduation from our School of Engineering, we are devastated by this loss.”
Johnson was honored at Saturday’s commencement ceremonies, the school said, and a family member accepted his diploma on his behalf.
Minneapolis police say a 23-year-old Bloomington man has been booked into the Hennepin County Jail in connection with the shooting. WCCO typically does not name suspects before they are charged.
Police also said one of the two people killed was one of the suspected shooters.
Just before 2 a.m. Saturday, police say two people standing in a crowd outside a nightclub on the 300 block of 1st Avenue North in downtown Minneapolis began to argue. They pulled out guns and began to shoot.
Officers found several people laying on the ground with gunshot wounds. They found two people at the scene, dead. Ten people had been shot total.
The preliminary investigation shows that all who were shot were adults. Five were men, and five were women, though the two who died were both men. Another man is in critical condition and seven others have non-life threatening injuries.
“As we start pulling more and more video from downtown from the city cameras, from the pole cameras that are out, we’ll be able to identify who the shooters are,” said John Elder, Director of the Office of Police Information.
He added that seven homicide investigators have been called to work on the case and asked people to stay out of the downtown area.
A man, who wanted to keep his identity private, was near the Monarch Minneapolis night club when shots rang out just before 2 a.m. on Saturday.
“It’s messed up. Nobody should have their life taken like that,” said the witness. “I know for a fact it was like six guns going off at one time.”
Koron Young lives in downtown Minneapolis. He’s frustrated by the rise in crime in the city, since bars and restaurants just reopened to normal hours three weeks ago.
“I feel like when you go out you should be able to go out for a good time, you shouldn’t have to make life or death choices,” said Young. “It’s getting ridiculous and they got to do something to fix it.”
The short term safety solution is the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is bringing additional deputies into the downtown area at night for the remainder of the weekend. The long term solutions are already being discussed by the Minneapolis Downtown Council.
“Law enforcement is key, but law enforcement was right there and so that’s not the only thing,” said Steve Cramer, the president and CEO of Minneapolis Downtown Council.
Cramer says some of the options they’re looking into are temporarily closing bars down early again. He also says they’re considering having some Downtown Improvement District outreach ambassadors, who are those walking around downtown Minneapolis in lime green shirts, stay on the streets until bar close. Right now, they are off the streets by 11 p.m.
“That’s something that would have to be integrated with security. We don’t want to have our ambassadors in a dangerous position either, but we also want to make sure everybody that comes down to the warehouse district can be safe and enjoy themselves,” said Cramer.
The Breakfast Bar is a restaurant located across the street from the Monarch Night Club. The owner told WCCO they used to stay open until 2 a.m. during the weekend nights, but now they close at 11:30 p.m. to make sure they can get customers and employees home safe before crime picks up.
It was a violent night in the city, as a separate shooting in North Minneapolis left another person dead.
The incident happened at about 8:40 p.m. near 26th and Logan Avenue North. The original call was for a vehicle crash.
Police say responding officers found a man suffering from multiple gunshot wounds in the vehicle. He was taken to North Memorial Medical Center in critical condition, but died shortly thereafter.
A woman at the scene was suffering from a medical issue not related to gun violence. She had been the driver of the car.
Another man covered in blood reportedly drove himself to North Memorial. No one is currently in custody.
Police say there are reports of three other shootings across Minneapolis overnight, one on the 1300 block of Irving Avenue North, one on the 5100 block of Dupont Avenue North, and one on the 2600 block of Lyndale Avenue South. All three of those wounded are considered to have non-life threatening injuries.
“Last night again brought tragic news. Again, our collective conscience is shocked. Lives have been lost on our Northside and downtown. And we are left to process the reality that bullets have struck innocent bystanders, people welcoming the warm weather and celebrating being together again,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
“We can stem crime in our city, but it will take all of us coming together with a renewed commitment to preventative work and a shared resolve to stop the gun violence and bring the perpetrators to justice,” he added. Frey went on to say that he supported giving both Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and Office of Violence Prevention Director Sasha Cotton the resources they need to help solve the issue of gun violence in the city.
Arradondo added that the “brazen senseless acts of gun violence must stop,” and that “Minneapolis police officers will continue to rush into harms way to save lives.” He asked community leaders and residents to speak up and denounce the violence as well.
“There is no excuse for the reckless, irresponsible and criminal behavior on display early this morning at the Warehouse District,” said Steve Cramer, President of the Minneapolis Downtown Council. “In particular, we look for determined, clear-eyed leadership from City Hall to put Minneapolis back on course as a City that engenders respectful behavior so all can thrive.”
The increase in gun violence has one Minneapolis city office calling it a public health crisis, working behind the scenes to try and stop it.
The Office of Violence Prevention was created in late 2018, funding programs that offer support to victims of violence, and programs aimed at stopping violence. One of the most visible ways is through “violence interrupters.”
T.O.U.C.H Outreach was part of a city pilot program which is about to expand, made up of community members who mediate conflicts and try to stop retaliation. The city says six teams of violence interrupters are in training currently and will be on the street next month.
The Minneapolis Police Department told WCCO it will increase patrols downtown after Friday night’s shooting.
Police are asking anyone with information about the shootings to call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
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