An argument escalated into gunfire at a Maplewood nightclub early Saturday, wounding five and sending clubgoers into chaos.
Thirty to 60 rounds were fired at the Stargate Bar & Nightclub, located in a strip mall on Rice Street and Larpenteur Avenue W., police said, stressing that the outcome of the shooting could have been much worse.
“We believe we got lucky in this situation,” Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell said.
People were arguing inside the packed nightclub about 1:30 a.m. Saturday when gunfire broke out, Schnell said. At least one shot was fired inside the club, wounding a man in the leg.
Maplewood officers stationed across the street then saw clubgoers running from the club and into the parking lot. The shooting continued from the club and into the street, with bullets hitting vehicles and almost striking one police officer, Schnell said.
Several people fired shots from cars as they tried to flee, Schnell said. One vehicle crashed in the street intersection and another diagonally across from the strip mall.
None of the people shot had life-threatening injuries, Schnell said.
Minnesota State Patrol, St. Paul and Roseville police units assisted during the incident. Police recovered one gun, although Schnell said many more weapons were used.
“There were an incredible number of casings,” he said.
No one has been arrested, Schnell said, although he added that police expect to be able to trace suspects through their vehicles. Investigators are piecing together reports from the club, as well as from St. Paul and Roseville, where some of those involved may have fled.
Stargate Bar & Nightclub will be closed Saturday, on police orders, Schnell said. He said the City Council will determine whether to permanently close the club or place sanctions on it.
The club has been the site of violence in the past. A 20-year-old was shot and killed by one of the club’s security guards in May 2015, and shots were fired outside the club last summer.
“We’ve had a number of incidents that prompted concerns,” Schnell said. “This incident will weigh heavily.”