Reeling from overnight bloodshed downtown and in other parts of Minneapolis that killed three people and wounded 12, community leaders vowed Saturday to take back the streets from gangs and guns.

Police made a breakthrough in their investigation of the worst scene of carnage, arresting a suspect believed to be one of two men who opened fire on each other outside the Monarch nightclub at 322 N. 1st Av. at 2 a.m. Saturday. The gunfire killed two people, including a University of St. Thomas student, and wounded eight.

Those deaths, as well as a fatal shooting in north Minneapolis late Friday, brought the city's 2021 homicide total to 31. Four other people were wounded in other overnight incidents, police said.

The sense of a city wracked by violence pervaded a gathering of more than 200 people at an afternoon gathering at Shiloh Temple in north Minneapolis to kick off a "take back the block" program meant to translate outrage into action. Beginning Monday, volunteers will be out at key intersections on the North Side, defying the fear that has kept many residents inside.

"It isn't an invasion of your block — this is support of your block," said the Rev. Brian Herron. "We want to see you come out. We want to see you sitting on your stoop."

The violence came on the heels of the shootings, one fatal, of three children earlier this month, which had already galvanized the community. That activism intensified Saturday at Shiloh Temple.

"Understand this: If your agenda is not about bringing health and safety to our community, we're going to withstand you," the Rev. Jerry McAfee told the crowd.

The surge in bloodshed comes amid the loosening of pandemic restrictions and as warmer weather draws crowds back to restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. At the same time, the city is still debating defunding or reforming the city's Police Department in the wake of George Floyd's death last year.

Shots erupted at bar closing time Saturday outside the Monarch nightclub, according to police spokesman John Elder. A preliminary investigation suggests that two men got into a "verbal confrontation" on the crowded sidewalk, Elder said.

On Saturday afternoon, a 23-year-old Bloomington man was arrested and booked on suspicion of murder in the shooting outside the Monarch. The second shooter was one of the men who died, Elder said.

Police said the 10 people shot outside the Monarch were all adults — five men, including the two killed, and five women. One man was in critical condition, and the other seven victims suffered noncritical injuries.

The night's other homicide, the fatal shooting of a man in a vehicle at N. Logan and 26th avenues just before 9 p.m. Friday, remained unsolved.

One of the victims in the shooting outside the Monarch was Charlie Johnson, a mechanical engineering major at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul who was slated to receive his degree Saturday.

"Our community is shocked and saddened by the news of Charlie's death," St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan said. "On a day he and his family should have been celebrating his graduation from our School of Engineering, we are devastated by this loss."

Johnson was remembered at three commencement ceremonies Saturday with his name read and an empty chair draped with a cap and gown. A member of his family accepted his diploma.

The Monarch was closed Saturday night and issued a statement offering condolences to the victims' families. "Although the incident happened in close proximity to our establishment, after speaking with authorities, our own staff and patrons — as well as reviewing our own security footage — we are confident the persons responsible for the shooting were not patrons of our establishment last night," management said.

'Stand up and speak out'

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety John Harrington addressed the Shiloh Temple gathering, urging city residents to help end the violence.

"We have to get the guns off the streets. We cannot live with this insanity," Harrington said.

Arradondo has pleaded with community members to come forward with information on suspects in the killings.

"The perpetrators of these crimes should never find refuge or anonymity in our communities," he said in a statement after the shooting. "Minneapolis police officers will continue to rush into harm's way to save lives; however, we need help from community leaders and residents to stand up and speak out."

At Shiloh, he noted that the city has five police precincts, and he called residents "the Sixth Precinct." Some North Side residents appeared ready to answer his pleas.

"It's a hard thing. But we know who these people are," said Victoria Dooley. "They're our brothers, our cousins, our uncles. And they're killing our babies."

It's time to take a stand, said Sharif Willis. "When men become men and stand up, kids sit down," he said as the crowd shouted agreement.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis leaders expressed anger with the violence plaguing downtown.

Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, said the "insanity" will continue unless "our entire community rises up — family members, elected officials, business, community and faith members, prosecutors, judges, all of us."

Steve Fletcher, who represents downtown on the City Council, called on lawmakers to act on gun control.

"As long as guns are allowed to flood unabated into our community, nobody … will succeed at ending gun violence entirely," Fletcher said in a statement.

At the CC Club in south Minneapolis, where a nonfatal shooting took place Friday night, the lights were low, the air conditioning primed and the jukebox humming Saturday afternoon. Crowds packed nearby restaurant patios and coffee shops.

Scott Murray of Golden Valley and Tom Meier of Woodbury sat at the club's picnic tables outside, catching up. "We've been coming here for 30 years, playing pool, listening to the Replacements on the jukebox," Murray said.

While both men said the violence at the bar wouldn't deter them from returning, they're dismayed by the shootings in Minneapolis.

"I grew up here. It's disgusting what's happening," Murray said. "It's like the city has been taken over by punks."

At the closed Monarch, there was no evidence of the mayhem. Patrons sat outside at nearby restaurants and brewpubs while people walked and biked down 1st Avenue.

Doug Lyon, who has lived in the North Loop for 20 years, was biking through the area.

"I still feel relatively safe," he said. "It's just a matter of not being out here at the wrong time. Unfortunately, violence seems to be relegated to bar closing time.

"It's craziness," he said. "It's too easy to whip out a gun." • 612-673-7402 • 612-673-7752 • 612-673-4064