MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A woman is dead, 14 people are injured and three men are in custody after a mass shooting early Sunday morning near downtown St. Paul.
Dozens of gunshots erupted just after midnight at the Seventh Street Truck Park, just down the block from Xcel Energy Center. Police said multiple 911 callers “frantically begged for help” moments after the attack.
A person close to the woman who died identified her as Marquisha Wiley, and described her as a “magnetic” young woman who was “bright, joyful and supportive.”
The other victims were taken to area hospitals for treatment, and are expected to survive. Good Samaritans worked with police to help victims while paramedics made it to the scene.
“I can only describe it as hellish,” St. Paul police spokesperson Steve Linders said. “I think about the young woman who died. One minute she’s having a good time, the next minute she’s lying in her friends’ arms who are trying to save her life, and she didn’t make it. I can’t think of anything worse.”
Police Chief Todd Axtell tweeted Sunday that he spoke with the family of the woman who was killed and they are “absolutely devastated.”
“We will bring justice to the victims,” he promised at the time.
The Preliminary Investigation
Three suspects are in custody. WCCO has learned at the time of the shooting one of them had an active warrant for his arrest. According to documents, he failed to show up for a sentencing hearing in May. The suspects have not yet been charged, so WCCO is not naming them. Two are convicted felons with lengthy criminal histories.
Investigators worked for more than 16 hours, combing through the complicated scene. WCCO has learned forensic teams collected casings from the many shots fired, documented where the bullets struck walls and objects. They also gathered evidence like clothing and dusted for fingerprints. Investigators obtained surveillance video from cameras in the area. It’s an expansive and complicated scene that required multiple St. Paul Police Department homicide investigators.
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher was also at the scene Sunday afternoon. He told WCCO the motive for the shooting is still unclear.
“It’s a horrifying, tragic event,” Fletcher said. “It appears to be anger, hostility, argument, fight and gun.”
Fletcher stopped in the area Friday night during his “Live on Patrol” segment on Facebook. His dash cam captured large groups of people in the area, and he expressed his concern.
“We’ve never had any shots fired here, I hope we never do. But with this volume it’s going to happen at some point right? It’s becoming a very popular place,” Fletcher said on Facebook Friday.
Police call this an open and active investigation. It’s possible more people were involved, so more arrests are possible.
The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office said if they get the case from police by Monday morning, that charges could come as soon as Monday afternoon.
Witnesses Recount The Shootout And Aftermath
Witnesses described the scene as chaotic, and were still processing what happened hours later. Demarco Percy dropped to the floor with everyone else inside Seventh Street Truck Park.
“It was just gunshots. It was like maybe 10 shots,” Percy said. “As you look around, everyone’s on the ground like, ‘I’m hit! I’m hit!’ There’s a couple people who were hit. You’re kind of checking yourself making sure you’re OK.”
Demarco says Marquisha Wiley was shot right next to him. In those unspeakable moments, Demarco’s mind went immediately to his three young children.
“I was thankful. Two inches to the left, two inches to the right, it could’ve been someone else. I’m thankful it wasn’t me,” he said. “Prayers to the family that lost someone, and prayers to the people sitting in the hospital right now.”
Unable to sleep last night, one thing at least brought some solace to Demarco is that three suspects have been arrested.
“My partner has been here 14 to 15 years. She can’t think of anything like this happening in St. Paul,” Demarco said. “People deserve justice. Someone lost their life, so hopefully they’re able to sort it out and decide who was the one that got the killing done so they can lock that person up for a long time.”
Demarco was here celebrating a friend’s birthday, but he says he’s now questioning whether he’ll continue going out at night in this area.
Jack Larson, 22, said he came to the bar for fun with friends on what felt like a normal Saturday night. He remembered how quickly it all happened — he said it felt like it transpired in just 30 seconds. He told WCCO he heard five or six gunshots, then a pause before more gunfire. He came back Sunday afternoon looking to retrieve his phone that he left inside.
One person next to him was shot in the leg, and he was positioned in a way that “blocked the bullet from hitting me in the chest or the head,” Larson said. He recalled his friend applying pressure to another individual shot. He left the bar with blood that was not his own stained on his clothes.
“I’m shook up, I’m not going to lie. It’s not every day that you’re in a bar that gets shot up,” Larson said. “I’m just, I’m thankful that I’m OK. All my friends are OK. I’m trying to swallow it all — it’s still fresh.”
Lucas Knutson lives above Seventh Street Truck Bar, and said he was about to go to sleep when he heard gunshots below. He looked outside his window to find people flooding the street. He recalled seeing four or five people crying for help as they carried out a woman to an ambulance.
“It was kind of surreal,” Knutson said. “I’ve never seen anything like that in real life outside of TV.
Knutson said the area is pretty peaceful, and doesn’t usually experience violence like this.
Mayor Melvin Carter released a statement via Twitter.
— Mayor Melvin Carter (@MayorCarter) October 10, 2021
“Our community is devastated by the shocking scenes from last night,” Carter said. “As our Saint Paul officers work to bring those responsible for these senseless acts into custody, our work to build more proactive and comprehensive public safety strategies is more urgent than ever. We will never accept violence in our community.”
Gov. Tim Walz called the shooting “horrific.”
“Minnesota is keeping in our hearts the family of the young woman killed and the 14 others injured, and the St. Paul neighborhood reeling from this senseless gun violence,” Walz said. “We’re working in close coordination with local law enforcement as they apprehend those responsible.”
Police would like anyone who has information about the shooting to call 651-266-5650
This is the second mass shooting in the Twin Cities in less than six months. Back in May, 10 people were shot at the Monarch nightclub in downtown Minneapolis. Two of them died, including a University of St. Thomas student.