A day after two men were gunned down during an open-mic night at an illegal after-hours club in north Minneapolis, police continued to look Saturday for suspects and a family was searching for closure.
Gone on Saturday were the long strands of crime tape and barricades of police squad cars that cordoned off several city blocks the night before. However, blood-spotted snow, a makeshift memorial and even a bullet submerged in the slush remained outside the boarded-up building on the corner of Fremont and 39th Avenues N. where the shooting occurred.
The victims were identified by family members as Erick Felton, 23, and Demetrius Harper, 32. The two men were cousins, relatives said Saturday.
About 3 a.m. Friday, police responded to 3859 Fremont Av. N. on a call of shots being fired. When officers arrived, they found two men lying dead, one inside the building and the other outside.
Later that night, a third man who also had been at the club arrived at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis with noncritical injuries.
City officials said that early Friday, 50 to 100 people packed the venue, which had been operating illegally as an after-hours club for people who wanted to dance and socialize after most bars close.
While there wasn’t any sign on the building indicating the venue’s name, according to a social media poster, the club is called the Black & Gold Room. According to the poster, its doors had been scheduled to open at 9 p.m. Thursday for open mic night, the poster said.
As rain fell Saturday, those who knew the shooting victims paid tribute with flowers stuck into melting snow and balloons tied to a nearby tree.
Harper had three children and was outgoing and dedicated to his family, cousin Rita Harper said. She wrote “Luv you cuz,” in highlighter on a poster she and another family member placed against a tree.
According to Demetrius Harper’s Facebook page, he lived in Minneapolis and was originally from St. Louis.
History of citations
Zoning inspectors were at the club in November and issued a violation order for illegal use, city spokesman Matt Laible said in a Friday e-mail. The city has issued three citations since then totaling $1,100, which remain unpaid, he said. One was for illegally selling alcohol.
Police had been called to the building 14 other times since the beginning of February. While most of the calls were minor, one, on Feb. 22, was for a shooting.
Attempts to reach the building’s owner, identified by public records as Yia N. Vang, who lives in Elk River, were unsuccessful Saturday.