Police Chief Janee Harteau joined patrols in downtown Minneapolis Sunday night in the wake of an early morning shooting at the Epic nightclub.
Harteau walked the beat along First Avenue, north of Target Center. She said she feared a return of violence that plagued the same Warehouse District area in the summer of 2012 when violence spiked by more than 50 percent and shootings and stabbings were regular features of weekend nights after bar closing.
The most recent incident happened when an altercation turned to deadly gunfire inside Epic, where hundreds were gathered to see rapper Yo Gotti. Authorities haven't yet identified the victim, but said he was known to police.
A fan was also shot to death outside a Yo Gotti show in Albuquerque, N.M., last year. And the rapper was also part of an altercation in Memphis in 2010.
"Our challenge is that we have witnesses that are less than cooperative," Harteau said. "Because our victim has an extensive criminal history, his associates are not very cooperative, so I have tremendous concern about retaliation, which is why I'm here."
"Our victim has an extensive criminal history, his associates are not very cooperative."
Harteau praised the the police response to the initial shooting, which included officers from her department as well as the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and Metro Transit Police. She said thousands of people fled the club as police tried to respond to the violence. "People were flooding out the doors, and officers were not only giving CPR to the victim, but they were also ensuring other people weren't injured, people weren't trampled," Harteau said.
But the chief said her cops shouldn't have had to deal with such a situation and said a combination of lax security at some businesses and events that threatened to incite violence were proving a dangerous combination.
"When you have events like Yo Gotti that attracts violent behavior, that's what you're going to get. There isn't a cop that works here that was surprised that we had a shooting. But how are you going to prevent something like that? We had cops everywhere," Harteau said. She called for restraint on the type of events downtown clubs stage.
She also said the city needs to crack down harder on business regulation to keep troublesome nightspots in check.
"I'm concerned when we have a great, thriving downtown, with really good businesses that there are a few that continue to not fit in that norm," she said. "We need to look at license regulation. We need to work with the city attorney's office, and we need to decide as a city what our downtown looks like."
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