Crowds, crime vex Minneapolis downtown bar closings

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 26, 2012 - 5:22 PM

Minneapolis shootings hurt four, including one shot by police.

If there was any spot in Minneapolis early Monday morning that police were watching, it was the downtown clubs zone along Hennepin and 1st Avenue N. So when gunshots rang out at 2 a.m. near the Gay 90's, injuring three people, police responded on foot, in squads, on horses and even on a four-wheeler.

Two gunmen were captured, one of them after he was shot in the arm by police. All four gunshot victims are expected to survive, according to authorities.

The shootings occurred on a night that has brought intense police scrutiny in the past: The late Sunday to early Monday night crowd often draws younger people out for "18 and older" nights hosted by some clubs. It's also a night that's seen a fair number of shootings and violence.

Violent crime is up 60 percent downtown so far this year; it's up 16 percent citywide so far this year, according to police statistics.

With police firepower concentrated downtown, it may seem unlikely that someone would still pull out a gun and start shooting.

That's how it works sometimes, said First Precinct Inspector Eddie Frizell.

"When you're dealing with the criminal element, they can be unpredictable," he said.

Authorities do not believe the shootings of the three people outside the Gay 90's were a random act.

Frizell praised the officers who captured the gunmen, calling it a "team-style arrest between horses, beat officers and one brave young officer chasing a young suspect down."

An officer ran after one of the armed gunmen, capturing him a few blocks away near the intersection of Washington Avenue and 1st Avenue N.; that suspect's gun was recovered during the arrest, according to police.

A second gunman was captured moments later near Washington Avenue and 2nd Avenue N. after an armed confrontation with a police officer. The second suspect was shot when the officer "noticed he was carrying a handgun" and feared for the public's safety, according to a statement issued Monday afternoon. The injured suspect was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center where he was treated for his wounds with a police officer standing nearby.

Neither man has been charged with any crimes yet, but that could happen as soon as Tuesday.

The police officer involved in the shooting has not been named; the officer was put on customary three-day administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.

A rise in crime

After several years of declines, violent crime downtown has risen dramatically this year, according to police statistics. Rape cases have risen 32 percent, with 41 cases reported this year through June 18, compared to 31 in the same time frame this year. Aggravated assault cases are up 22 percent. Robberies are also up 118 percent in that time period.

The good news: Arrests for robbery are up, too, but police have made an arrest in about a third of robbery cases so far this year. Last year it was only about a sixth of downtown robberies that resulted in an arrest.

For aggravated assault, police have made an arrest in about half of the incidents downtown so far this year.

Frizell said the beat officers have been engaging with people along the areas known for trouble, shaking hands and identifying individuals so that when things happen, the officers know who they're looking for.

As for the arrests early Monday, he pointed to the experienced patrol officers downtown.

"They know the rhythm of downtown; they know where the pressure points are; they're at the right place at the right time," he said. "When the unspeakable happens like that, they go forward and do great things."

Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747

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