At least seven people were injured in three separate shootings Saturday night and early Sunday morning in St. Paul, where police said more than 150 bullets struck cars, homes and an elementary school.
City leaders condemned the violent incidents, which included a shootout between two groups and a house party that erupted in gunfire. None of the injuries were believed to be life-threatening, police said.
"We will not rest until we find everyone responsible for pulling these triggers," Police Chief Todd Axtell said at a news conference Sunday afternoon. "I've been on this job in St. Paul for 32 years, and I've never seen this happen before."
No arrests had been made, but Axtell said "there are dozens of witnesses who know what happened and who is responsible" and urged those with information to talk to police.
According to police, the first shooting took place about 11:30 p.m. Saturday near the 500 block of Central Avenue. Two men, ages 25 and 26, told police that three males approached them and started shooting. The two men, who both had valid firearm permits, returned fire. No injuries were reported, but bullets struck six parked vehicles and an elementary school across Interstate 94.
Just after 1:30 a.m. Sunday, officers on patrol heard gunshots and found three people injured at the Holiday gas station on the 600 block of Rice Street. Two were taken to Regions Hospital by ambulance, and a third was transported by a private vehicle.
About 2 a.m. Sunday, officers were called to a house party where about 100 people had gathered in the 800 block of Selby Avenue. Someone started shooting and bullets struck several parked cars and buildings in the area. Four people arrived at the hospital with gunshot wounds — a 33-year-old woman, a 38-year-old woman, a 24-year-old man and another individual.
Bernard Foster, who lives down the street from the Selby Avenue property, said he told his wife to hide in their bathroom after the couple awoke to the sound of rapid gunfire and screeching tires.
"It sounded like a war zone," he said. On Sunday, he found a bullet hole in his golf jacket that was hanging on the wall by the front door. Officers discovered 108 shell casings in the area, Axtell said.
St. Paul saw a 25% increase in violent crime in 2020, a spike fueled by record gun violence and 34 homicides.
At the Sunday news conference, Mayor Melvin Carter attributed some of that trend to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left more people unemployed, homeless and isolated.
"We're fortunate that no lives were lost last night, but this clearly could have ended differently," he said. "What happened last night is something we can never accept."
Carter, too, pledged "to hold people accountable for last night's shootings."
"Beyond that, we have work to do as a community — not just our police department — but all of our community working together to eliminate these cycles of gun violence," he said.
Katie Galioto • 612-673-4478