Erin Schiller stood in front of her apartment building Monday evening on St. Paul's W. 7th Street, just outside the downstairs bar and restaurant she's frequented countless times. A neighbor laid a bouquet of roses on the ledge of usually buzzing Seventh Street Truck Park, which has been closed since a shooting early Sunday that left one person dead and a dozen injured.
"It's heartbreaking," said Schiller, 34, who has lived in the neighborhood for five years. She had frantically messaged dozens of friends after hearing gunshots ring outside her window. "I don't really know how to describe it, but the vibes have shifted in this neighborhood — and not for the better."
Two men are facing numerous charges in connection with the shooting. Police said the suspects — one accusing the other of abusing a relative — shot at each other across the crowded bar in the entertainment hub a block south of the Xcel Energy Center.
The Ramsey County Attorney's Office on Monday charged Devondre Trevon Phillips, 29, with 12 counts of attempted second-degree murder, and Terry Lorenzo Brown, 33, with one count of intentional second-degree murder and 11 counts of attempted second-degree murder.
"It's a tragedy, and it's something that hits us all hard," said St. Paul Police Cmdr. Jeremy Ellison, who supervises the area. "But the reality is these are unique, individualized incidents that shouldn't be looked as affecting the entire downtown, or even that neighborhood."
The shootings prompted police and the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office to boost patrols in the area — something they'd already been doing in response to complaints from neighbors who have reported an increase in low-level crimes and disturbances since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shortly after midnight Saturday, officers arrived to what charging documents described as "a chaotic scene," where bar patrons tended to others with gunshot wounds and shell casings littered the bar floor.
"No one should have to live in fear of those around them settling their differences with a hail of gunfire," County Attorney John Choi said in a statement, calling for "a comprehensive solution to prevent gun violence in our community."
Witnesses told police they saw three shooters, according to the charges, which describe four people — including Brown and Phillips — as potentially involved.
Brown and Phillips "are in a beef due to allegations of domestic abuse between Brown and his girlfriend," who is related Phillips, the charges said. Brown told police Phillips shot at him first and he returned fire.
Both men were hit and fell to the floor but continued to shoot at each other, the charges said.
Investigators told Phillips he was recorded on surveillance video, the charges said, but he denied involvement in the shooting. He said he arrived in Minnesota from Las Vegas — which is listed as his residence in charging documents — and went from the airport to Truck Park, where he said the shooting started within an hour after he arrived.
Police confirmed Sunday that the woman who died in the crossfire was Marquisha Wiley — a 27-year-old veterinary technician from St. Paul, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. According to the charges, Wiley was shot in the back. Medics who arrived on the scene pronounced her dead shortly before 12:30 a.m.
About a dozen people gathered outside the bar Monday evening with candles and flowers.
"It's almost like people are becoming desensitized," said Lauren Faeth, who lives nearby and joined the small group of mourners and concerned neighbors.
Five of the injured victims were treated and discharged, according to the charging document; the rest remained hospitalized Monday.
On Sunday afternoon, police arrested three men who were among those injured in the shooting. They had been taken to hospitals before being arrested. Brown and Phillips remain hospitalized Monday, according to charging documents.
Wiley's death is St. Paul's 32nd homicide this year. In 2020, amid a nationwide rise in violence, the city matched its one-year record of 34 homicides set in 1992.
In a Facebook post Monday, Seventh Street Truck Park thanked first responders and said the bar will reopen in the coming days.
"The Management and Staff of Truck Park are heartbroken by the senseless act of violence that occurred Saturday night. We send our deepest condolences and thoughts to the victims, families, patrons and our community feeling the impacts of yet another shooting," the statement said.
One block down the street, in Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub, general manager Kathy Gosiger said her staff closed Sunday after they started receiving texts about the shooting. The restaurant's recently hired security officers waited until the last customers' Ubers arrived, she said.
"Since then, we've come up with a game plan should this happen again — which we pray to God it never does," Gosiger said.
She and others cited an uptick in petty crime and other disturbances that they tied to the arrival in January of the Freedom House, a day shelter for those experiencing homelessness.
A cohort of neighbors has fiercely opposed a proposed zoning change that could allow the shelter to remain in the neighborhood long-term. The City Council is slated to vote on the measure Wednesday.
"What I'm hearing and observing is that Freedom House has certainly contributed to some additional quality-of-life issues in the neighborhood that this neighborhood hasn't experienced in the past," Police Chief Todd Axtell said Monday. "But I also don't believe that the people that engaged with this shooting had anything to do with the Freedom House."
The police chief has publicly clashed with Mayor Melvin Carter over the Police Department's funding, which Axtell has said should be increased to allow him to fill staff positions that were cut to save costs during the pandemic.
Council Member Rebecca Noecker, who represents the W. 7th Street neighborhood, said the council is considering Axtell's request as it develops a final budget, which members will vote on in December.
"You just feel sort of uneasy," said Matt LaForte, 27, as he left his apartment around the corner from Truck Park. "It was just so close to home."