MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Dozens of people, including two juveniles, have been taken into custody after another night of unrest in St. Cloud.
According to St. Cloud police, officers responded at 10:20 p.m. Monday to the report of multiple gunshots in the area of 9th Avenue and University Drive.
When they arrived, multiple people were seen running from the area, but no victims were located.
“Up until this time, calls for service were manageable with no signs of crowd issues. While officers were investigating the shots fired call, numerous people started to congregate in the area,” police said.
Within a half hour, police said that 200 people gathered and the crowd soon took over the roadway, blocking traffic. Some individuals were seen throwing rocks at police officers and passing vehicles.
According to police, at 11 p.m. part of the crowd began breaking glass in the front doors of Southtown Liquor Store and soon it was overrun by looters. Police then moved in and stopped people who were looting.
At that time, police said the “standard and mandatory notice” was given to the crowd to disperse, but that rocks continued to be thrown and the crowd showed no signs of dispersing. Tear gas was then used to disperse the crowd, which was successful.
“During approximately the next four hours officers responded to numerous unlawful assemblies, multiple reports of gunshots fired, several reports of assaults within the crowd, reports of rocks being thrown and three dumpster fires,” police said.
By Tuesday morning, 37 adults and two juveniles were taken into custody on charges related to unlawful assembly. All were taken to Stearns County Jail where they are being held for court.
Another adult was taken into custody on burglary charges related to the looting of the liquor store. An investigation into the liquor store burglary and identifying others involved is ongoing.
Bhavik Patel’s St. Cloud Liquor store on 9th Avenue South was one of several liquor stores heavily damaged by looters.
“People see that there’s opportunity in this,” Patel said. “There are good people that [are] protesting for the right reasons, and there are others that are just looking for, you know, a reason to do bad.”
Resident Kevin McCarthy was walking his dog Monday evening when a small group of protesters smashed the door of Southtown Liquor and rushed inside.
“They ran into the store, it was about, I don’t know, like 10 to 15 kids. And then the cops came around here and just started, you know, lining up and telling them to get out,” McCarthy said. “I don’t expect it to come out of St. Cloud, that’s the weirdest thing.”
With numerous window and door repairs made, store owners don’t object to the right of protest. They only hope it’s a message made peacefully.
The unrest in St. Cloud follows an online rumor that police shot and killed two black teenagers. That story was false.
Police say what really happened was an officer was shot in the hand after a confrontation with a man they were trying to arrest.
The city’s police chief says no officers shot back.
Four people involved in vandalism Monday morning were arrested, in a situation the chief says could have gone very differently.
The injured officer should recover.