Updated: October 21, 2021 07:06 PM
Created: October 10, 2021 07:13 AM
Three men have been taken into custody in connection with an overnight shooting at a bar in St. Paul that left one dead and 14 others wounded Sunday.
Multiple 911 callers "frantically begged for help," reporting shots fired around 12:15 a.m. at the Seventh Street Truck Park bar, about a block away from the Xcel Energy Center.
Police found a "chaotic scene" and 15 people with gunshot wounds. After securing the area, officers worked with good Samaritans to aid the wounded before St. Paul fire medics were able to enter the scene safely, according to police.
"There were gunshot wound victims lying in the street outside the bar," said Steve Linders, public information officer for the St. Paul Police Department. "There were gunshot wound victims lying on the sidewalk outside the bar. There were gunshot wound victims lying on the floor inside the bar."
A woman in her 20s was pronounced dead at the scene; 14 others were taken to the hospital and are expected to live.
Family identified the victim as Marquisha Wiley. She will be formally identified following an autopsy report from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office.
Three men — ages 33, 32 and 29 — have been taken into custody and are being treated at the hospital for their injuries, police announced shortly before noon Sunday. Police said once the suspects are discharged from the hospital, they will be booked into Ramsey County Jail and will await possible charges.
This is the 32nd homicide of 2021 in St. Paul.
The Minnesota State Patrol, Metro Transit police, Ramsey County Sheriff's Office and Maplewood authorities have all been assisting with the shooting and its aftermath.
"As you can imagine," Linders said, "something like this takes up a lot of resources, so some of those other agencies actually took 911 calls in our city while we were dealing with this tragedy."
This is an ongoing homicide investigation. As of 7 a.m., the scene is still being processed for evidence and witness interviews are underway. Police said there will be a shooting reconstruction, too.
Witnesses recall 'chaos' at bar
Marcus Van Gelder recalls stepping out of Seventh Street Truck Park Bar for a phone call.
It was a decision that possibly saved his life.
“I saw so many people come out of that place at one time I am surprised nobody got trampled,” Van Gelder, eyewitness, said. “I saw everybody come from every direction possible that was not in that club as fast as they could with terror in their eyes and fear in their faces.”
Boatloads of people poured out the bar, but he didn't see his sister.
“Terror inside your heart when you think your family member might be dead is. That's the real terror,” he said.
Minutes, that he said felt like an eternity later, he found his sister.
“She was about 15 feet away. She saw the guy. She saw the gun. She was pushed to the ground, fell on her back and chaos ensued,” he said.
Emily Kieffer was in town visiting a friend. They were both inside the bar when the shootout happened.
As shots rang out feet away, she said a man used his body as a shield to protect them.
“He's like, ‘You're married, you have two kids,' and I’m like ‘Yeah, I mean I do hope that I get to them,'” Kieffer said.
Reaction from city leaders
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said he doesn't remember a shooting with anything close to this number of victims in St. Paul during his three decades of service in the city. Mayor Melvin Carter also expressed his shock:
"Our St. Paul community last night experienced one of the most heartbreaking incidents in any of our memory," Carter said in a news conference late Sunday afternoon. "To have in one incident a mass shooting in our hometown, to have in one incident 15 people struck by gunfire, to have in one incident a young life lost in the way that that occurred last night is heartbreaking and traumatic."
Police believe others may be hurt and were not taken to the hospital. If you were also hurt, or if you have any information regarding the incident you are encouraged to call 651-266-5650.
“My heart breaks for the woman who was killed, her loved ones and everyone else who was in that bar this morning,” Saint Paul Chief of Police Todd Axtell said. “In an instant, they found themselves caught in a hellish situation. I want them to know that we have the best investigators in the country, and we won’t stop until we find the people responsible for this madness. We will do our part to hold them accountable.”
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher believes more officers on patrol would lead to fewer instances like this.
“When you have police presence, people don't commit crime,” Fletcher said.
“We frankly need another 100 officers in St. Paul to make sure these businesses can survive,” Sheriff Fletcher added about the negative impact the violence can have on local businesses. “[The businesses] all need to have a safe environment to provide a good service. And if they're not safe, people will stop coming.”
Brittney Ermon and Ben Henry contributed to this report.
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