Police scoured surveillance video and interviewed witnesses Monday, hours after a brazen gunman fired into a crowded East Lake Street restaurant, killing one man and injuring three other people.
Neighbors were left rattled after the gunman walked up to the front windows of the La Que Buena at 1611 E. Lake St. around 1:30 a.m. Monday and opened fire. A 32-year-old man inside the restaurant was killed, and the others, aged 19, 22 and 30 were expected to survive.
“You really hate to hear that someone died. It wasn’t directed at the neighborhood, apparently,” said Steven Sandberg, who lives near the shooting scene and called the whole thing unsettling.
Police said the gunman fled and has not yet been found.
Investigators were looking into the possibility that the shooting was gang-related, Third Precinct Police Inspector Michael Sullivan said in a message e-mailed to the public Monday afternoon.
Police spokeswoman Cyndi Barrington said it did not appear to be a random act, a lone shooter is suspected and the motive is unknown. The names of the victims have not been released.
“The suspect approached the building from the outside and then shot into the restaurant,” she said in a statement. “The suspect then fled the scene.”
Numerous exterior video surveillance cameras are in the immediate area. Three video cameras are on the front of the restaurant, and two more are posted across the street, one at the Salvation Army worship and service center and another on the corner of Lake and 16th Avenue S.
A man leaving the restaurant and locking the door shortly before dawn said the place was crowded at the time of the shooting, adding that he believes the bloodshed involved a gang member shooting at members of a rival gang.
Said Sandberg: “I heard loud gunfire, five or six rapid shots. I looked out my window and saw someone walking and getting into a pickup truck, and the pickup sped off north on 17th Avenue.”
Sandberg said the person he saw was a man, “not particularly tall, and not heavy or anything.”
In the five years that Sandberg has lived in the area, he said, “I feel really safe in my neighborhood. I have really good neighbors. It’s a good block.”
The restaurant was closed Monday morning but opened later in the day. Five bullet holes in the front windows have been taped over. Except for homicide, crime levels have fallen in south Minneapolis this year, with violent crime down by about 13 percent so far this year. The shooting at La Que Buena is the 11th homicide in south Minneapolis this year. Overall, the city has had 36 homicides through Nov. 18, according to police records.
Police request that anyone with any information about the shootings text tips to 847 411, enter MPD and the tip (all texts are anonymous), or call the tips line at 612-692-TIPS (8477).