Violence ravaged parts of downtown Minneapolis late Wednesday and early Thursday after mobs responded to a false rumor that police had killed a shooting suspect who had, in fact, killed himself.
Not even dissemination of a surveillance video documenting the fact that the suspect had killed himself could prevent looting from taking place in and around the Nicollet Mall, a shopping and entertainment area.
Chloe Caplan visited the downtown Target store when “all of the sudden I heard people screaming and yelling and chanting,” she said, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Caplan and some store workers sheltered in a closet.
“It was very scary. We didn’t know if someone was going to try to break the door down, we had no idea what was going on,” she said. “In hindsight, it was not that traumatic, but at the time it was because I had no idea what was going on.”
Police said the confrontation that triggered the unrest took place at about 2 p.m. when a gunman shot and killed another man who was with a woman. Police located the gunman about four hours later, Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said.
“As officers approached, he produced a handgun and shot himself,” Elder told Fox News. He said police did not fire their weapons.
However, rumors soon spread that police had killed the man. Tensions in Minneapolis have been high since the May 25 death of George Floyd while he was in the custody of Minneapolis police.
According to WCCO-TV, a man identified as the owner of the Franklin-Nicollet Liquor Store said his store was looted in May and again overnight.
“I came down here after I heard it on the news…that this place was getting hit again,” he said. “I got here and there was no less than 15 cars in the parking lot, 25 people in the store, in and out they were going.”
The store owner said that when he called 911 to report the looting, he was told, “Stay away and be safe.”
Videos posted on social media showed the damage inflicted on businesses as rioters set fires and looters hit Saks Fifth Avenue and Target.
Brit’s Pub in downtown Minneapolis is on fire. pic.twitter.com/WieEJ2qwz4
— Mark Vancleave 🎥+📰=🎉 (@MDVancleave) August 27, 2020
More looting in downtown Minneapolis. They’ve now breached the Saks 5th Avenue store on 6th and Nicollet and people are making out with lots of goods. pic.twitter.com/tgUIyoIMvf
— Courtney Godfrey (@courtneygodfrey) August 27, 2020
— Mike Karbo (@MKarbo) August 27, 2020
Mayor Jacob Frey imposed an immediate curfew and requested help from the National Guard.
“What we’re calling for right now is peace,” he said. “This destruction and property damage just takes away from that underlying goal.”
Gov. Tim Walz declared a peacetime emergency and sent the National Guard and 150 Minnesota State Patrol troopers to the city.
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