Weekend crime recap: Chaos on the streets of Minneapolis

Minneapolis descended into chaos after dark on Independence Day with approximately 12 people being shot in several different incidents.

A US Bank branch was burglarized in Minneapolis. (Submitted to Crime Watch Minneapolis)

The Minneapolis Fire Department (MFD) responded Thursday afternoon to a massive explosion in a sewer line that reportedly blew manhole covers off for several blocks and caused a large area to be evacuated, including parts of the University of Minnesota campus. The incident, which authorities later stated was possibly caused by a gasoline spill in the sewer line, began before 2:30 p.m. on the 1700 block of University Avenue Southeast. Responders were initially dispatched to a report of a fire in the basement of a building on Fraternity Row. As responders arrived, they reported to the dispatcher that they heard a loud explosion, according to dispatch audio. Responders on site were also approached by residents who lived nearby stating their entire residence smelled like gas. Calls continued to pour in to 911 about the smell of gas inside buildings and an evacuation was ordered for a large part of the surrounding area.

A manhole cover was dislodged on University Avenue SE. (Submitted to Crime Watch Minneapolis)

At one point, the dispatcher relayed to fire command that calls were coming in from “literally all over southeast Minneapolis” about the gas odor in buildings. The fire commander replied that the cause of the odor “appears [to be] moving southeast toward the river.”

MFD posted late in the evening that all displaced residents had been allowed to return to their homes and businesses but stated they didn’t know how the gasoline got into the sewer system or how it was ignited. There were no reports at the time of injuries related to the blast or the fire.

The State Fire Marshall has since taken over the investigation.

Six teens were seriously injured in a Ham Lake crash late Thursday about 11 p.m. Initial dispatch audio indicated a chaotic scene with a vehicle possibly in the water and also starting on fire. Audio indicated that one victim had fractured legs and another had been ejected. Responders on site requested several EMS rigs as well as two emergency medical transport helicopters.

The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office later updated that all six victims were 17 years old. The sheriff indicated the vehicle had been traveling at a high rate of speed southbound on Xylite Street Northeast when it crashed into a tree on the 16800 block. Four of the victims were transported by ambulance to area hospitals and two were transported to a local hospital via Life Link III and North Memorial Health Air Care helicopters. Another sheriff’s update named the victims, except for the driver, and said that all had sustained serious injuries. The sheriff stated that the driver’s name was being withheld pending the consideration of charges. As of Monday night, no further official updates had been given about the conditions of the victims and their injuries or regarding potential charges against the driver.

Another teen-involved crash occurred earlier Thursday about 4:45 p.m. in North Branch where 12 people were injured in a three-vehicle crash, according to the Minnesota State Patrol. The crash occurred before 4 p.m. near Hwy 95 at 310th Avenue Northeast. The State Patrol crash report states that a Dodge Grand Caravan carrying five passengers that was being driven by a 19-year-old female rear-ended a Mazda that was making a left turn ahead of it. The Mazda struck from behind was then spun into traffic and was struck again by a Toyota Camry in the intersection.

The Mazda contained a 28-year-old female driver, a two-year-old child and an infant. The infant sustained life-threatening injuries, according to the crash report. The Mazda driver and child sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

The Camry contained a male and female, both 71, and a female child, 4, who all sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

The 19-year-old driver of the Dodge Caravan and five passengers ranging in age from 15 to 19 all sustained non-life-threatening injuries after the vehicle continued into a ditch following the crash.

It was later reported that the Dodge Caravan was owned by Anoka-Ramsey Community College and was traveling from Cambridge to North Branch transporting high school students participating in a summer program. No further updates have been made available about the injured infant’s condition.

Metro Transit police in Minneapolis responded Thursday about 11:30 p.m. to an assault at the US Bank LRT platform at 429 Park Avenue, according to dispatch audio. An approximately 25-year-old male victim was transported to the hospital with head and facial injuries. The suspects were reported to be four to six juvenile black males who fled on foot from the scene and weren’t immediately apprehended. No public statement was released by Metro Transit police about the incident.

Minneapolis police responded to a stabbing Friday just after midnight near 29th and Park Avenue, according to dispatch audio. The stabbing had been preceded by a report of a fight. An approximately 26-year-old male was transported to the hospital with a stab wound to the torso. No public statement was released by police about the incident.

A few minutes later, Minneapolis police responded about 12:20 a.m. Friday to a report of a shooting near East 38th Street and 4th Avenue South, according to dispatch audio. Initial reports indicated that the victim had fled from the scene. Police eventually found the victim and determined he’d been shot in a robbery at gunpoint at the bus stop. Further audio indicated that the 41-year-old male had been transported to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the lower arm. Further information about the victim’s condition was not immediately available, and no public statement was released by police about the incident.

St. Paul tallied its 21st homicide for the year on Friday. SPPD said in a statement that they responded about 3:10 a.m. to a report of a person lying on the sidewalk in front of a building on the 600 block of Dale Street North. When Saint Paul Fire medics arrived, they found a man believed to be in his 50s who was deceased. Because it wasn’t immediately clear what caused the man’s death, medics called for police officers, who responded, secured the scene and began looking for possible evidence.  The Ramsey County medical examiner conducted an autopsy to determine a cause of death and it was discovered he’d been shot. Police said they do not believe the shooting was random. As of Tuesday at noon, no arrests had been announced.

The Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office announced on Friday that two people had been arrested and charged after ten pounds of methamphetamine was mailed to an Elk River residence.

Jessica Marie Geraghty, 28, of Elk River, and 24-year-old Ricardo Juaregui, of Osseo, have both been charged with a first-degree aggravated controlled substance crime and first-degree possession of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.

Jessica Geraghty and Ricardo Jauregui/Sherburne County Jail

Charges say that a concerned citizen contacted authorities after receiving a package delivered to the wrong address and opened it without checking the label. Investigators determined the contents to be approximately ten pounds of meth. They removed the bulk of the contents and replaced it with a similar weight of inert substance and returned the package to the apartment where they observed Geraghty pick it up a short time later. Authorities continued to watch the property and saw two Hispanic males come to the residence. One, later identified as Juaregui, entered Geraghty’s residence and then left carrying the package. Law enforcement immediately conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and found the box inside. Geraghty later told investigators that she met Juaregui, whom she knew as “Pablo,” on a dating site about 30 days earlier. She said “Pablo” had asked if he could send a package to her residence because he was between homes and she had agreed.

Blaine police announced Friday that two people had been charged regarding an earlier incident in which their 8-month-old child was found with methamphetamine and fentanyl in his system.

Luke Adam Thomas, 30, and Bailey Nicole Hansen, 23, were both charged with two counts of child endangerment.

Luke Adam Thomas/Anoka County Jail

Police had been called to the home on April 30 on a report of a child in distress and found the child unresponsive.

The mother later admitted that she and the father had used heroin and fentanyl on the day the child was found unresponsive. Hansen also told authorities that she had used drugs every day since February. The boy was placed in a foster care setting and has remained there since.

A family of five, including three children under the age of 5, died Friday in Maplewood in separate acts of suicide and homicide. The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office released an updated statement Tuesday recapping the series of events in which four bodies, including the 23-year-old mother and three children, were recovered from Vadnais-Sucker Lake after an hours-long search. The deaths of the four followed the morning suicide of the 27-year-old father.

South Minneapolis experienced a robbery and carjacking spree Friday night between about 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Incidents aired over dispatch during the time frame:

Purse snatch at West Lake Street and Irving Ave South

Carjacking at gunpoint near 38th and 12th Avenue South

Robbery of person near 38th and 3rd Avenue South

Gun-pointing incident near 34th and 3rd Avenue South

Carjacking at gunpoint near 33rd and 16th Avenue South

Carjacking at gunpoint 35th and 17th Avenue South

During the same time frame, a burglary was discovered on the 3200 block of Bde Maka Ska Boulevard in which a white Audi Q5 was stolen. That vehicle was reported to be involved in one or more of the above incidents and went on to be involved in several more robbery incidents over the weekend (see more below). No public statement was released by police about any of these incidents.

Minneapolis police responded Friday about 10:25 p.m. to a report of a shooting on the 2700 block of Emerson Avenue North, according to dispatch audio. Further dispatch audio indicated a female had been shot and the male suspect was known to her. Information about the extent of the victim’s injuries was not immediately available, and no public statement was released by police about the incident.

Shots fired Friday in Minneapolis outside the residence of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey sent people hitting the deck, according to reports. Police were dispatched about 9 p.m. to the area of East Hennepin Avenue and University Avenue Northeast on a report of shots fired, according to dispatch audio. The dispatcher aired that people were “on the floor” at Sidebar at Surdyk’s after the shots were fired. Pictures and witness accounts surfaced online following the incident. One account claimed that Mayor Frey was at Surdyk’s as the incident unfolded or in the aftermath and that bystanders began yelling at him. Frey’s apartment residence is located directly across the street from Surdyk’s. One witness claimed the shooters “looked to be 2 teenage gangs” in a private message submitted to Crime Watch Minneapolis. No public statement was released by police about the incident.

Minneapolis police and medical responders were dispatched about 2:30 a.m. on Saturday to a report that a teen had been electrocuted atop a building on the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue, the location known as George Floyd Square, according to dispatch audio. Further EMS audio indicated that a 16-year-old male had been electrocuted and was transported to the hospital. No further information was immediately available about the boy’s condition or why he was on the roof, and no public statement was released by police about the incident.

A St. Paul police squad car was T-boned Saturday night about 11:50 p.m. in downtown near 6th Street East and Sibley Street. The driver of the BMW that struck the squad registered a blood alcohol level of .15, nearly twice the legal limit in Minnesota. The 48-year-old suspect from St. Paul was placed under arrest for drug and alcohol offenses, police said, but was evaluated at Regions Hospital before being booked early Sunday morning. The officer was also evaluated at Regions as a precaution but was not injured.

Two people in Minneapolis were shot early Sunday in the Dinkytown area near the University of Minnesota campus. Police were dispatched just before 1 a.m. on a report of shots fired near 13th Avenue Southeast and 4th Street Southeast, according to dispatch audio. The dispatcher stated that one group was running from the area and several others were ducking into businesses for cover. Another 911 caller reported that several parties were on the ground near 12th Avenue Southeast and 4th Street Southeast, but they didn’t know if they were shot or just taking cover.

One 911 caller reported hearing about 10 shots fired and saw a group of five to six males running across the street. Witnesses described the suspect with the gun as a black or Somali male wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and red shorts. Police arrived and didn’t immediately find any victims. The dispatcher later aired that two victims had been privately transported to an area hospital. It was later reported that the two victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries. No public statement was released by police about the incident, and the University of Minnesota did not release a safety notification about the incident.

Minneapolis on Sunday suffered a surge of purse snatchings across the city, according to dispatch audio. The dispatcher aired just before 8 p.m. that a purse snatching occurred in the Uptown Minneapolis area at 25th and Hennepin Avenue. The dispatcher stated that the same suspects in a stolen white 2020 Audi Q5 had been involved in four to five purse snatchings across the city on Sunday, including downtown Minneapolis, the Second Precinct area (NE and SE Minneapolis), and the Fifth Precinct (west of 35W). The Audi had been stolen in a burglary a couple of days prior. One victim was able to capture a photo of one of the perpetrators getting back into the stolen vehicle after they’d snatched their mother’s purse in Dinkytown about 5:30 p.m. Another purse snatching was reported on Monday just before 2:30 p.m. at 22nd and Hennepin Avenue. The suspect in that incident was reported to be in a stolen van, the dispatcher said. It’s unknown if the Monday incident is related to the same suspects. No public statement was released by police about the incidents.

A stolen Audi Q5 and a purse-snatch suspect in southeast Minneapolis. (Supplied to Crime Watch Minneapolis)

Burnsville police responded just before 9 p.m. Sunday to a report of a domestic involving a gun, according to dispatch audio. A photo posted on social media showed a large law enforcement response to the apartment building on the 12500 block of Portland Avenue. The dispatcher indicated to police that the female half was bleeding and that several attempts had been made by dispatch to get her to leave the apartment, but she refused. Police also attempted to reach the allegedly armed male half by phone in order to negotiate a resolution. Police eventually made their way into the apartment building and detained the male shortly after 10 p.m. The victim refused medical care at the time. Information was not immediately available about the arrested party. No public statement was released by police about the incident. Dakota County Jail records show that Wayne Deonte Akis, 34, was booked into custody on probable cause domestic assault and obstruction of the legal process. Akis is on parole for aggravated robbery and felon in possession of a firearm. His last release from prison was August 2020.

Brooklyn Park police reported Sunday that two people were stabbed on the 7700 block of Tessman Drive North. Police responded about 9:40 p.m. and initially located one victim on scene with non-life-threatening stab wounds. Officers learned the other party involved in the stabbing had left the scene prior to officers arriving. However, the other party returned to the scene. The second party also had non-life-threatening stab wounds. North Memorial Ambulance and Brooklyn Park Fire provided medical care to the injured parties. Police said the suspect was arrested and they are continuing to investigate the incident. Information about the arrested party was not immediately available.

Brooklyn Park police reported a death due to fireworks early Monday morning. A statement released by BPPD said the Brooklyn Park Fire Department and North Memorial paramedics responded to a park on the 9800 block of Fallgold Parkway North for a report of a firework that had exploded in an individual’s face. Arriving officers found an 18-year-old male with severe wounds to his hands and face, and his friend was performing CPR. Officers assisted the Brooklyn Park Fire Department and paramedics in attempting life-saving measures. The victim was transported to North Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced deceased. No further information was made available about the decedent.

Minneapolis police responded Monday about 5:30 a.m. to a report that someone witnessed an ATM being stolen from the US Bank branch at 4930 34th Avenue South, according to dispatch audio. The dispatcher relayed that the witness saw two males in a white box truck steal the ATM from the building. A short time later, the ATM was reported to be in the middle of the street near 34th Avenue South and East 50th Street. Photos posted online showed broken doors at the US Bank location as well as the ATM in the street with police responding to the scene. An officer later updated the suspect description to two Hispanic males in their 20s or 30s who were in a white GM box truck with a lift on the back. No public statement was released by police about the incident.

Minneapolis descended into chaos after dark on Independence Day with approximately 12 people being shot in several different incidents, including a mass shooting of seven people at Boom Island Park in Northeast Minneapolis during a non-sanctioned fireworks display. Many of the injured in that incident were later reported to be in critical condition. No arrest had been made at the time.

Bedlam also played out near the Stone Arch Bridge in southeast Minneapolis, the same site as another mass shooting on June 25, and in downtown Minneapolis as police received reports of fireworks and Roman candles being shot at people, vehicles and apartment/condo residences. Other video captured the sound of possible gunshots mixed in with the fireworks. Some residents near South 2nd Street and Portland Avenue reported the members of the crowd tried to break into apartment buildings several times, according to dispatch audio and social media posts. One video showed the perpetrators lighting large fireworks and throwing them at downtown buildings. Dispatch audio at the time indicated that police lacked sufficient personnel resources to effectively respond and shut down the incidents. When police tried to respond at various times, they were met with hostile crowds and fireworks being directed at them.

The following shootings were also reported on Monday night, according to dispatch audio:

Two people were shot in Minneapolis Monday about 8 p.m. on the 1300 block of Irving Ave N. Police were dispatched after receiving a report from EMS and Minneapolis Fire responders in the area of a person “down,” according to dispatch audio. The incident was updated to a shooting. By the time police arrived, both the victim and shooter had left the scene. Gunshot victims subsequently showed up at both HCMC and North Memorial. The victim at HCMC reportedly told responders that they had also been a shooter in the incident. The crime scene was taped off and Crime Lab personnel were requested to the scene. Information about the injuries to the parties was not immediately available. No public statement was released by police about the incident.

Two more people were shot in Minneapolis about 10:20 p.m. Monday near 18th and Nicollet Avenue, according to dispatch audio. One female victim was reportedly shot in the leg and was privately transported to the hospital. Another victim with a reported graze wound was located at 18th and Stevens Avenue South. Police aired that they found what appeared to be .45 caliber and 9mm casings on a sidewalk. No public statement was released by police about the incident.

Another gunshot victim was reported to have been dropped off at the hospital stemming from an incident at Gold Medal Park in downtown Minneapolis. Further details about the condition of victims in the shootings was not immediately available and no statement was released to the public about the shootings outside of the Boom Island shooting.

Across the state

Duluth police reported that a 17-year-old died in a shooting Saturday, and another 17-year-old was arrested in connection. DPD officers were dispatched about 9:23 p.m. to the area of North 16th Ave East and East 1st Street for a report of a shooting and located a male who had been shot. The person was transported by Mayo Ambulance to a local hospital where the individual later died from injuries related to the shooting. DPD later updated that another 17-year-old male had been arrested without incident and is being held on pending charges of homicide. Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken said in a separate social media post that teenagers have been involved three separate incidents where guns were used in violence in the past month. Chief Tusken urged parents and family to talk to their teens about guns and gun safety and to report to police if a teen they know is illegally possessing guns.

Cloquet police reported that a call for the sound of shots fired resulted in the arrest of a juvenile on attempted homicide.

On July 2, at approximately 11:15 p.m., a Cloquet police officer was flagged down in the vicinity of Cloquet Avenue and 15th Street by occupants in a vehicle. The occupants reported that someone had shot at them. The officer observed that the car had damage consistent with gunfire.

It was determined that minutes before, two juvenile males had flagged down an uninvolved adult female in her vehicle on Pinehurst Park Drive near Pinehurst Park. They told the driver someone was shooting at them. After entering the car, the car was hit with bullets. Police stated that no one was struck by the gunfire.

Staff from the Cloquet Police Department worked around the clock investigating this incident. A scene was located and processed within Pinehurst Park. Police determined that the perpetrator had fired more than 10 handgun rounds.

Detectives and patrol officers subsequently identified a juvenile male suspect, took him into custody, and recovered a firearm.

The juvenile in this incident was lodged at Arrowhead Juvenile Center (AJC) for second-degree attempted homicide, police said.

The Cloquet Police Department was assisted by the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office and the Fond du Lac Police Department in the incident and the investigation continues.

Update: Police said seven people, not eight, were shot in the Boom Island incident. The article has been amended to reflect this. 

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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.