Updated: 8:45 p.m.
Two people died and eight others were wounded after an argument ended in gunfire in downtown Minneapolis early Saturday.
Police announced Saturday evening that one of the two suspected gunmen was among the two people who died at the scene. The other suspected gunman, a 23-year-old Bloomington man, was arrested Saturday afternoon in Bloomington.
Police spokesperson John Elder said investigators are not looking for any additional suspects in the shooting. He said investigators’ "working hypothesis" as of Saturday evening was that the second man who died was a bystander unconnected to the argument that preceded the gunfire.
The University of St. Thomas issued a statement Saturday evening identifying one of the people who died as Charlie Johnson, a senior mechanical engineering major who had been set to graduate later Saturday.
“Our community is shocked and saddened by the news of Charlie’s death,” University President Julie Sullivan said. “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.”
The school said Johnson’s name was read at all three undergraduate commencement ceremonies on Saturday, and a family member accepted his diploma. Counseling is being made available for St. Thomas students, faculty and staff.
‘Exceptionally chaotic scene’
Police said the gunfire broke out just before 2 a.m. Saturday in the area of the 300 block of North First Avenue.
Officers in the area for bar close responded to the sound of gunshots, and found several victims on the ground in what police described as "an exceptionally chaotic scene."
Aside from the two men who died at the scene, eight other people — five women and three men — were transported to local hospitals. Police said Saturday that one man was in critical condition, while the other seven victims had non-life-threatening injuries.
"Preliminary investigation reveals that two people were standing in a crowded area and got into a verbal confrontation," police said in a news release issued at 5 a.m. Saturday. "Both individuals pulled out guns and began shooting at each other."
Elder said seven homicide investigators as well as other detectives worked through the night to identify the suspects in the case.
The shooting happened near the Monarch nightclub, which issued a statement Saturday evening offering condolences to the victims, and saying the business would be closed until May 28 "out of respect for the victims and their loved ones, and mindful of the safety and security of our staff, patrons and neighbors."
The statement said "we do want to be clear that although the incident happened in close proximity to our establishment, after speaking with authorities, our own staff and patrons — as well as reviewing our own security footage — we are confident the persons responsible for the shooting were not patrons of our establishment last night. The persons responsible for the shooting unfortunately initiated shots at the adjacent parking lot unassociated with our business."
Elsewhere in Minneapolis from Friday evening into early Saturday, one person died and at least three other people were wounded in other shootings.
Police said officers responding to the scene of a two-vehicle crash near the corner of 26th Avenue North and Logan Avenue at about 8:40 p.m. Friday found a man with multiple gunshot wounds inside one of the vehicles. He was treated at the scene and later died at a hospital. The driver of the other car was taken to a hospital for treatment of "a medical issue not related to gun violence," police said.
A man was reported to be in serious condition after being shot in the head while driving on the 5100 block of Dupont Avenue North just after 8 p.m.
One person was shot in the foot after a fight between two groups just after 11 p.m. on the 2600 block of Lyndale Avenue South.
A victim reported being grazed by gunfire while sitting in a car near the 1300 block of Irving Avenue North just before 6 p.m.
The latest deaths brought the city’s homicide total to 31 for 2021.
“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,” Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement issued Saturday morning. “These outcomes are not fated. 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.”
“These brazen senseless acts of gun violence must stop. The perpetrators of these crimes should never find refuge or anonymity in our communities," Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said in a statement. "Minneapolis police officers will continue to rush into harm's way to save lives, however we need help from community leaders and residents to stand up and speak out denouncing loudly that they will not tolerate this violence as well. Our greatest strength is when we all work together to keep our city safe. Our children are watching us and how we respond during these times. Let’s come together to uplift hope and peace.”
Gun-related homicides in midsized and large American cities have skyrocketed during the pandemic, and criminologists believe coronavirus-related socioeconomic loss in many communities is driving that trend. A study by the Council on Criminal Justice tracked a 30 percent increase in homicides overall in a sample of 34 U.S. cities in 2020 as well as an 8 percent increase in gun assaults.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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