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Shooting rumors lead to unrest in downtown Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey has requested the support of the Minnesota National Guard and instituted a curfew to bring an end to unrest in downtown Minneapolis, after rumors surrounding a shooting prompted looting and violence.

Police said a suspect in an earlier Minneapolis homicide case appeared to shoot and kill himself near Nicollet Mall on Wednesday evening.

Police chief Medaria Arradondo said officers were not involved in any deadly use of force, despite rumors circulating on social media.

Footage from city surveillance cameras was shown to reporters which appeared to show the man taking his own life.

A clip from the surveillance video released by MPD can be viewed here. Viewer discretion is strongly advised, as this video shows graphic content. 

"This is a tragic incident for all involved," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a news conference. "What our city needs right now is healing, we do not need destruction, we do not need property damage. That is not acceptable and it will not be tolerated."

"I will not allow more trauma to a city still grieving from May 25," Chief Arradondo said, referencing the police shooting of George Floyd and unrest that followed. "We will clear out downtown. For those who choose to cause violence you will be arrested. This is my city, we will not tolerate that."

"What we're calling for right now is peace," Frey said, asking people to return to their homes.

Arradondo said one officer was injured while responding to the unrest. The chief estimated there may have been as many as 500 people downtown at one point. Arradondo said he's received reports of broken windows and "shoplifting," but did not have an early damage estimate.

The incident that sparked the initial rumors happened around 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Police spokesman John Elder said it appeared a homicide suspect saw officers approaching him in downtown Minneapolis, then turned into a doorway near 8th and Nicollet, where he allegedly placed a gun to his chin and shot himself. Elder said officers then approached, slid the gun away, removed the man's backpack, turned him over and began CPR.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene. His identity has not been released.

Elder said the surveillance video was quickly released to the media in order to quell rumors. He said MPD was able to release this video from city cameras immediately because officers were not involved in any use of force. Had that been the case, Elder said all video would have been turned over to the BCA.

Police believed the man had been involved in an earlier shooting death inside a parking ramp near North 10th Street and Currie Avenue earlier Wednesday afternoon.

Crowds began gathering near the scene immediately following the shooting. KARE 11 crews witnessed looting at some downtown businesses, as police formed a line of squad cars to try to stop the unrest.

Governor Tim Walz said on Twitter that he was sending the State Patrol to help restore order in downtown Minneapolis.

"Minneapolis, it’s time to heal. We must rebuild and recover. Dangerous, unlawful behavior will not be tolerated. The State Patrol is headed to Minneapolis to help restore order. I remain in close contact with the city and every state resource stands ready to help bring peace," Walz said in his tweet.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey thanked the Governor and called for healing in a series of tweets.

Metro Transit said light rail service was suspended to several downtown Minneapolis stations due to the unrest and ongoing police activity.

Natalie Grant

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