Sheriff: Officers recognized gang members in crowd ahead of State Fair shooting

All of the Ramsey County gang intelligence experts were present at the fair Saturday. Officers recognized gang members in the crowd in the Midway and during the fights that took place. There was "probably more than one gun in that mix," Fletcher said. 

Ramsey County sheriff's deputies at the Minnesota State Fair (Submitted to Crime Watch)

One person was injured in a shooting at the Minnesota State Fair Saturday night after a series of fights and skirmishes broke out near the Midway. The incident prompted law enforcement to corral fairgoers out the gates and shut down the venue early.

In a Sunday press conference, Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher indicated that gang members may have been involved in the fights and shooting. Fletcher also said there may have been another shots-fired incident prior to the shooting.

Initial reports of a fight and shots fired began around 9:30 p.m. outside a french fry booth near the Midway, according to police dispatch audio at the time. There were no initial reports of gunfire injuries in that incident, but a chaotic scene was indicated over dispatch.

Further dispatches indicated that two people had been taken into custody before 10 p.m. and additional law enforcement officers were positioning in the area of Liggett Street near the Midway.

As police were positioning about 10:06 p.m., an officer called out a large fight breaking out at the entrance of the Midway. Shortly thereafter, an officer called out “shots fired, shots fired.”

The shooter was reported at the time to be a juvenile black male in a black face mask and white T-shirt who fled the area after firing a single shot.

After 1 a.m. Sunday, the State Fair posted the following update on its website:

“Shortly after 10 p.m. near the intersection of Carnes Avenue and Liggett Street at the Minnesota State Fair, officers reacted to a gunshot. At the time of the gunshot, the area was heavily populated with fair guests and a large contingent of law enforcement. Later a victim was located and transported to the hospital by Saint Paul Fire medics for non-life-threatening injuries. The Minnesota BCA is assisting with the investigation of this incident.” 

On Sunday afternoon, Sheriff Fletcher posted an update on his “Live on Patrol” YouTube channel from the fairgrounds about the incident while flanked by two deputies who were present during the shooting.

Fletcher said he and several deputies were present right in the area as the fights and shots broke out, describing the participants as “brazen” because they didn’t care that law enforcement was present.

Fletcher confirmed that the shooter at the Midway had fired one shot into the air and fled the area. Fletcher said law enforcement found one shell casing near the Midway, and that the gunshot victim approached fire medics about 20 minutes later and was transported to the hospital.

A short video compilation was later posted on social media which appears to show a crowd scattering near the Midway and people commenting about someone being shot.

Fletcher said there were citizen reports of shots fired earlier during the fight near the french fry stand, and he said that he and Deputy Joe Miller thought they heard what sounded like three gunshots fired at that time, but no casings were found related to that report.

Fletcher said in addition to law enforcement from Hennepin County, Minneapolis and other agencies, all of the Ramsey County gang intelligence experts were present at the fair Saturday. Deputy Miller said officers recognized gang members in the crowd in the Midway and during the fights that took place. There was “probably more than one gun in that mix,” Fletcher said.

When asked about the shooter, Fletcher said, “We know who he is,” and indicated that they were familiar with him and his associates but declined to give further details when pressed.

Fletcher was asked how a gun may have gotten into the fairgrounds since visitors were being screened and metal detectors were being used. He said they’re continuing to investigate and hope to get more answers when the shooter is apprehended.

Another video posted online shows at least three people who appear to be jumping a fence into the fair Saturday night. Fletcher acknowledged the video of the fence jumpers and said the State Fair police would have beefed up security measures around the perimeter Sunday night.

The State Fair said on its website Sunday morning that added law enforcement would be present Sunday night, which Fletcher confirmed in his video.

There were no major incidents reported at the fair Sunday night.

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.

 

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.