MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Drivers painted the pavement early Sunday morning with circular strokes of burning rubber at the intersection of First Avenue and North 4th Street in downtown Minneapolis.

Downtown resident named Karl rode by on his bike Monday to see the skid marks.

“I only live three blocks away and I could hear this noise,” Karl said. “I could hear street cars just vroom, vroom, vroom, vroom!”

Video posted to Facebook shows a couple drivers doing donuts and burnouts surrounded by a crowd after 2 a.m., not long after bars closed for the night. Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson John Elder calls the dangerous display “hot-rodding.”

“One of those vehicles loses control, and there’s that many people there on foot, that creates a very serious hazard,” Elder said.

READ MORE: Dozens Of Businesses Consider Moving Out Of Downtown Minneapolis

Given the concern from police, many on social media wondered why officers didn’t immediately intervene. The police department’s 1st Precinct is mere steps from the intersection. In the four-minute video, flashing lights can be seen in the distance further down the street, but it’s unclear if they are from a squad car or EMS vehicle.

Elder said at that time of the hot-rodding, officers were also responding to two homicides across the city. The two investigations limited MPD’s resources downtown.

“You’re not able to send one officer in to deal with this. You’re going to need to send in a contingent to be able to get in, get crowds moved, get those vehicles stopped, and to be able to do it safely,” Elder said.

Hot-rodding is typical in the summer months, but Elder said this year it’s happening more often and all across the metro. He said there have been similar reports of cars gathering in empty parking lots at night in St. Louis Park, Roseville and Bloomington.

“They just seem to be a little bit more aggressive this year,” Elder said.

He says officers have been able to make arrests and impound cars this summer. Thanks to a tip, he said squad cars were sent to the Interstate 94 overpass near the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market to prevent a gathering of vehicles.

“This isn’t something that we think is just a nothing deal. This is an issue,” Elder said.

READ MORE: An Emotional Crisis: More Than 150 Minneapolis Police Officers Filing For Disability, Attorney Says Most Suffering From PTSD

Sara Gruett owns Dulono’s Pizza, right by First Avenue and North 4th Street. She understands that police had to prioritize responding to the homicides over the hot-rodding, but the fact that it happened still concerns her.

“I do hope that my [delivery] drivers are safe and everybody is safe that’s just trying to go about their daily lives,” Gruett said.

Before riding off on his bike, Karl mentioned this wasn’t the first time he heard cars racing or doing burnouts downtown. He believes police are doing the best they can with the manpower they have.

Elder said by the time officers responded early Sunday morning, the drivers had already left.

“Hopefully no one gets injured because I feel like this is gonna happen again probably next Saturday, just a block over,” Karl said.

Jeff Wagner

Comments (5)