Police said the violence broke out Monday on the Fairs last day, as the event let out for the night.
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“Everybody was put at risk,” said Steve Linders, a St. Paul police spokesman. “… It doesn’t matter if the person was shooting east or west, north or south. There’s a lot of people in that area. … It was shockingly brazen. Audacious isn’t even a strong enough word. It was dangerous and we’re lucky that more people weren’t injured or killed.”
The 19-year-old pedestrian remained in critical but stable condition on Tuesday afternoon. The three men who were shot are expected to survive.
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Police were called to Snelling Avenue and Fair Place just after the Fair closed at 10 p.m. Monday for a badly injured pedestrian who had been hit by a vehicle in a northbound lane on Snelling.
Dynasty Capree Scott was breathing but unresponsive, and paramedics took her to Regions Hospital in St. Paul.
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Witnesses said there was a fight in the area just before the collision. Video posted online shows people assaulting a person on the ground just outside the Fair’s main entrance, with a woman stomping on the person.
According to St. Paul police spokesperson Steve Linders, shortly after 10 p.m., police received reports that a pedestrian was struck by a car on Snelling Avenue and Fair Place West near the fairgrounds. Officials arrived to a chaotic scene and found a 19-year-old woman lying on the ground, gravely injured. She is now in critical condition at the hospital.
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The gunfire broke out soon after Scott was struck; police said there were two gunmen. Police are investigating whether the incidents are related.
Shortly thereafter, several shots rang out as officers were redirecting traffic off of Snelling Avenue at the intersection of Midway Parkway. Officers ran toward the area where shots were fired, and they found a 20-year-old man suffering from a gunshot wound to the stomach/pelvic region.
“We’ve heard from witnesses that there was a fight right before she ended up in the road and before she was struck, and we’ve heard from other witnesses that there was another fight, possibly a continuation of the original one,” Linders said.
Officials learned a fight broke out shortly before the woman was hit by a car. The driver of the vehicle initially stopped, but left the scene after bystanders began kicking and hitting his car. He drove a short distance away and called 911. The driver did not show any signs of impairment.
Speaking Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz said, “Once again gun violence shattered our sense of community.”
“I refuse to accept this as the norm,” he said. “I refuse to accept that that’s just the way it is and it’s part of American character, and those who say, ‘Well anything you’re proposing wouldn’t have prevented this,’ is totally missing the point, and it is totally a fatalistic attitude that we can’t get out of this. … There’s an expectation — this Legislature needs to do something.”
Scott was hurt after she got into a vehicle that was in the northbound lane of Snelling Avenue, closest to the center line. She then exited the vehicle on the right side, into the other lane of traffic, and a 39-year-old man driving a sport-utility vehicle struck her.
The Mounds View resident was driving home from work, Linders said. Preliminary information indicated he was traveling 25 to 30 mph.
“He did the right thing — he stopped, he called 911,” Linders said. “And while he was doing this, a group approached his car and started banging on his windows and yelling at him to get out of the vehicle.”
“There’s a huge crowd,” he reported and said people were kicking his vehicle. The man reported he was armed and said, “I can defend myself if necessary,” according to a transcript of the 911 call, which indicated there was yelling and screaming in the background.
“You better send a cop to get here quick, I’mma (sic) kill this dude,” the man said, according to the transcript. “… They break this window I will shoot someone.”
The operator told the man he could drive away. He went north on Snelling Avenue to an Arby’s, where he met with a Roseville police officer.
The man voluntarily submitted to a preliminary breath test, which showed no alcohol in his system and he didn’t appear to be otherwise impaired, Linders said.
“It does not look at this point that there was anything criminal,” Linders. “This is just a tragedy — a 19-year-old was struck by a vehicle and she’s in grave condition.”
Soon after the crash, officers were blocking traffic across from the Fair’s main gates at Snelling Avenue and Midway Parkway.
“There were a lot of officers there and that’s when they heard shots ring out,” Linders said. “Several gunshots are reported. As our officers do, they ran toward the gunfire” to look for anyone injured, and find the person or people responsible.
The officers didn’t find any suspects, but they located a man suffering from a gunshot wound about a block south of the crash scene.
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A 20-year-old was shot in his lower torso, another 20-year-old was shot in the hand and an 18-year-old was shot in the shoulder.
No arrests have been made in connection to the shootings. The police department’s gang unit is involved in the investigation, but “until we find the people who pulled the trigger, we won’t know what their motivation” was, Linders said.
The events that unfolded at the close of the Minnesota State Fair have no place in our community,” said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. “I thank our public safety staff for their swift response, and for their ongoing investigation to ensure those responsible will be held fully accountable.
At about midnight, 30 to 40 people gathered outside Regions Hospital’s main doors, “which were locked as part of their standard procedure,” Linders said. Police said they knew the injured people.
Officers saw them fighting and pushing, and tried to get them to stop, but they didn’t. Police used a small burst of chemical irritant and “eventually the group did disperse,” Linders said.
The hospital’s emergency department was briefly locked down “out of an abundance of caution for our patients and staff,” according to a spokeswoman for HealthPartners, which runs the hospital.
After the man who was shot in the hand was released from the hospital, police arrested him. The 20-year-old had a warrant in a case from June — possession of a firearm from an ineligible person.
About 45 minutes before the fight outside the fairgrounds, there was an incident in the Fair’s Midway area. At 9:15 p.m., “an individual was spraying an irritant at Fair guests,” Minnesota State Fair Police Chief Paul Paulos said in a statement Tuesday. “… Several guests were treated at the scene and released.”
The person was not apprehended and “at this time, we cannot confirm that the incident was related to those incidents outside the Fairgrounds as the investigation continues,” according to Paulos.
“Safety is our number one priority, and we work very hard to provide a safe and secure environment for everyone,” Paulos said.