A shootout early Sunday at a Minnesota bar left one woman dead, at least 14 people injured and prompted panic and "madness" amid the hail of bullets, St. Paul police said.
Three men were arrested later Sunday and were being treated at a hospital for injuries, Police Chief Todd Axtell said. No motive for the rampage was immediately released.
Axtell said in a statement that he had spoken with the family of the woman who was killed and they were "absolutely devastated."
"Hearts are broken – victims, families, community and officers," he said. "I am incredibly proud of the exhausted women and men of the SPPD. We will bring justice to the victims."
Axtell said multiple 911 callers frantically begged for help after more than a dozen people were shot inside the Seventh Street Truck Park bar. He said officers responded at about 12:15 a.m. local time to find a "chaotic scene" with 15 people suffering gunshot wounds.
Officers worked with good Samaritans to help the wounded while securing the scene and making sure it was safe for medics, Axtell said. Preliminary information from the scene had indicated there were several shooters, he said.
A woman in her 20s was pronounced dead, the 32nd homicide of the year in St. Paul, a city of 300,000 people. The city is on pace to exceed last year's total of 34 homicides, which tied a record that stood for almost 30 years.
“My heart breaks for the woman who was killed, her loved ones and everyone else who was in that bar this morning,” Axtell said. “In an instant, they found themselves caught in a hellish situation."
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death and positively identify her. The wounded were transported to area hospitals for treatment but were expected to survive, Axtell said.
John Maloney told the St. Paul Pioneer Press he was in his living room in the Oxbo Urban Rental apartments above the bar when he heard the gunfire.
“All of a sudden, I lost count, I heard multiple gunshots, pop, pop, pop, pop,” he said.
He went out on his patio overlooking the bar and saw a “mass influx of people" pouring out onto the street.
"People were screaming and hollering and yelling and running everywhere," Maloney said. "I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Police spokesman Steve Linders said the bar was crowded with people "just enjoying themselves and then we had a few individuals who decided to pull out guns and pull the trigger indiscriminately, with no regard for human life. I think about the poor woman who was just out enjoying herself. One minute she’s dancing, smiling and laughing, and the next she’s dying in her friend’s arms."
Mayor Melvin Carter said the community was "devastated by the shocking scenes" from the shooting.
“Our work to build more proactive and comprehensive public safety strategies is more urgent than ever," Carter said on Twitter. "We will never accept violence in our community.”
Rep. Betty McCollum pledged to work with community leaders to get guns off the street and out of the hands of criminals.
“The epidemic of gun violence plaguing the Twin Cities has hit us in St. Paul with a mass shooting event that can only be described as a horror,” McCollum said in a statement. “We must never allow this kind of criminal act to happen again.”
Investigators put out a call for anyone with information to come forward. A team of homicide investigators were working with patrol officers, the forensics services unit, the video management unit and others to piece together what led to the shooting, Axtell said.
The scene was being processed for evidence and a shooting reconstruction was conducted. The victims were being interviewed for clues, Axtell said.
"I want them to know that we have the best investigators in the country, and we won’t stop until we find the people responsible for this madness," he said. "We will do our part to hold them accountable.”
The Seventh Street Truck bar is in an entertainment district just south of the Xcel Energy Center, where the NHL’s Minnesota Wild play. Linders said he doesn’t recall any recent previous calls for police service to Seventh Street Truck Park bar.
“It’s just not on our radar as a spot where we see this type of thing,” Linders said. “We don’t see this type of thing anywhere.”/US TODAY