A fight between Target Center patrons, then a gunshot

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 16, 2007 - 11:34 PM

The intended target fell down stairs; no others at the World Fighting Championship Downtown Throwdown were hurt. Police said the shooting was the first inside the venue.

Jeff Wichern and his friends were watching the World Fighting Championship Downtown Throwdown in Target Center when a man and his friend walked hurriedly through Section 133.

There was a light pop from the entrance to the concourse, Wichern said, and one man fell down about 10 steps.

"He dropped to his knees and went down head first," said Wichern, who did not see the gunman.

It appeared that the man was fleeing when someone shot at him from the concourse Saturday night, causing him to trip and fall down the stairs, Wichern said. Police said no one was injured by gunfire and the gunman fled after the 10:50 p.m. incident.

Police spokeswoman Sgt. Tammy Diedrich said the shooting was the first one inside Target Center. "It's always been a safe place," she said.

"We've never had anything like that," said Sandy Sweetser, a Target Center spokeswoman.

There have been no arrests, although Diedrich said police have identified a suspect but would not say more about that person.

"There were tons of people at risk," Wichern said.

"It would be like the 50-yard-line of a football game."

He estimated that Target Center was about three-fourths full for the mixed-martial arts event. According to Target Center's website, it has 18,467 "theater-style permanent seats."

The gunman and his intended target knew each other and got into an altercation before the shooting, Diedrich said. Police identified the target as Yarzue Slowon, 27, of Minneapolis.

Wichern said there was blood "all over" in the concourse, apparently from that fight. Several people left the seating area after the shooting, he said, noting that no one appeared panicked.

The night's events were stopped for about 20 minutes and the lights turned up as about a dozen police officers responded, Wichern said.

Sweetser said standard safety precautions were in place Saturday, including searches of all bags and purses and the use of in-house security officers and off-duty Minneapolis officers. Metal detectors and wands were not used, she said.

Wichern said he would have liked to see more security at Saturday's event. "For an event like that, you've got the testosterone, you've got beer," he said.

Sweetser said she didn't know whether Target Center security has confiscated weapons in the past. Events will continue as planned, she added.

Chao Xiong • 612-673-4391

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