Just minutes after closing time, gunfire erupted inside a downtown Minneapolis nightclub, killing one person, injuring another and renewing debate about downtown safety.
As summer approaches, Minneapolis police may look at reallocating officers to address crime trends and patterns, including those in the downtown area, said spokesman John Elder. But, he added, Sunday morning’s crime was the “decision of one person,” and police and area businesses are already working together to ensure downtown is safe.
Sarah Paul, general manager of the Pizza Luce next to the club, agreed.
While more needs to be done to prevent such violence, she said, business leaders and members of the Downtown Improvement District’s Nightlife Plan Implementation Committee have been in collaborative discussions about how to address and respond to crime in the area.
“Incidents like this are unusual,” Paul said in the restaurant Sunday. “And when they do happen, it’s not just in downtown. … I want to reassure people that Minneapolis is making a collective effort to make downtown as safe as possible.”
The shooting comes just after Republican state lawmakers unveiled public safety proposals last week, painting a picture of violent gang and drug activity deterring residents from the suburbs or outstate from visiting the Twin Cities for sporting events or other activities. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter hit back, saying the proposals are based on misinformation regarding crime on light-trail trains and around entertainment venues.
Shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday, police responding to numerous 911 calls about a shooting at Rouge at the Lounge in the 400 block of N. 2nd Avenue found a “chaotic scene” as people fled the nightclub. Inside, officers found one gunshot victim, a man in his 20s who was taken to HCMC, where he died hours later, police said.
Staff at the hospital alerted police to another man, also in his 20s, who walked into the emergency room with noncritical injuries suffered in the same incident, according to Elder.
Identities of the victims have not been released, and police said Sunday that no one has been arrested.
Police said the suspect was armed with a .40-caliber handgun, according to dispatch audio. He was described as at least 6 feet 5 with long dreadlocks and wearing a dark jacket and no shirt.
Detectives worked through the morning and into Sunday and have not linked the shooting to any other crimes in the recent past, Elder said.
Violence in or immediately outside the club has sprung up at least twice in the past year and a half.
Attempted-murder and assault charges were filed in October against a man that prosecutors say ran over four people in the parking lot of Rouge at the Lounge. Defendant Eduardo Morales told investigators that he and his friend had gotten into an argument with a Rouge employee.
In July 2018, a fight prompted a shooting outside the bar that wounded two women and a man. On Sunday, Paul said Pizza Luce followed procedures and briefly went into lockdown after the shooting, and area business leaders communicated through the night.
“For all of us, safety is our utmost concern,” she said.