A second night of violence in St. Cloud since a police officer was shot in the hand was marked by gunfire, looting and officers being pelted with rocks over the course of several hours into early Tuesday, authorities said.
By the time police restored order many hours later, 39 arrests were made for unlawful assembly and one for burglary, police said.
The officer was shot in the hand early Monday by an 18-year-old as he was resisting arrest on suspicion of having a gun. The encounter in the 1000 block of S. 10th Avenue ignited false rumors of two black men being hit by police gunfire followed by swift and emphatic rebuttals from civic leaders.
A large and at times unruly crowd soon assembled outside police headquarters. The building “did experience some damage [from] people throwing rocks,” Police Chief Blair Anderson said. Officers directed tear gas and chemical irritants to disperse the crowd, and four arrests were made for minor offenses, he said.
However, unrest resurfaced about 10:20 p.m. Monday, when authorities were alerted to gunshots in the same area where the officer was shot.
According to police:
Officers arrived and found multiple people running from where the gunfire originated, and no victims were located.
Within a half-hour, roughly 200 people had gathered in the area. Some blocked traffic, and threw rocks at officers and passing vehicles.
Officers soon saw some from the crowd break through the front-door glass of the Southtown Liquor Store. Multiple people went inside, stole items and caused more damage.
Police ordered the crowd to disperse, followed by a warning that the gathering was considered an unlawful assembly. Officers then used “chemical crowd control munitions” to break up the gathering, a department statement read.
Over the next four hours, however, officers responded in the same area of the city to numerous unlawful assemblies, multiple reports of gunfire, assaults involving people within the crowd, rocks being thrown and three dumpster fires. One person needed medical attention at a nearby hospital.
“Crowd control measures” eventually proved successful in breaking up the gatherings of various sizes, the police statement continued.
Numerous officers were hit with rocks, but no significant injuries were reported.
The unrest forced the Police Department to close its headquarters lobby Tuesday to the public. Anyone needing to contact police were directed to call 911 for emergencies or (320) 345-4444 for less serious requests.