ST. PAUL — A fight just outside the Minnesota State Fairgrounds ended with a 19-year-old critically injured when she was struck by a passing vehicle and three young men wounded by gunfire.
Police said the violence broke out Monday, Sept. 2, on the Fair’s last day, as the event let out for the night.
“Everybody was put at risk,” said Steve Linders, a St. Paul police spokesman. “… It doesn’t matter if the person was shooting east or west, north or south. There’s a lot of people in that area. … It was shockingly brazen. Audacious isn’t even a strong enough word. It was dangerous and we’re lucky that more people weren’t injured or killed.”
The 19-year-old pedestrian remained in critical but stable condition on Tuesday afternoon. The three men who were shot are expected to survive.
Police were called to Snelling Avenue and Fair Place just after the Fair closed at 10 p.m. Monday for a badly injured pedestrian who had been hit by a vehicle in a northbound lane on Snelling.
Dynasty Capree Scott was breathing but unresponsive, and paramedics took her to Regions Hospital in St. Paul.
Witnesses said there was a fight in the area just before the collision. Video posted online shows people assaulting a person on the ground just outside the Fair’s main entrance, with a woman stomping on the person.
The gunfire broke out soon after Scott was struck; police said there were two gunmen. Police are investigating whether the incidents are related.
“We’ve heard from witnesses that there was a fight right before she ended up in the road and before she was struck, and we’ve heard from other witnesses that there was another fight, possibly a continuation of the original one,” Linders said.
Speaking Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz said, “Once again gun violence shattered our sense of community.”
“I refuse to accept this as the norm,” he said. “I refuse to accept that that’s just the way it is and it’s part of American character, and those who say, ‘Well anything you’re proposing wouldn’t have prevented this,’ is totally missing the point, and it is totally a fatalistic attitude that we can’t get out of this. … There’s an expectation — this Legislature needs to do something.”
Driver not cited
Scott was hurt after she got into a vehicle that was in the northbound lane of Snelling Avenue, closest to the center line. She then exited the vehicle on the right side, into the other lane of traffic, and a 39-year-old man driving a sport-utility vehicle struck her.
The Mounds View resident was driving home from work, Linders said. Preliminary information indicated he was traveling 25 to 30 mph.
“He did the right thing — he stopped, he called 911,” Linders said. “And while he was doing this, a group approached his car and started banging on his windows and yelling at him to get out of the vehicle.”
The man reported to 911 that the collision happened when a person jumped in front of his vehicle.
“There’s a huge crowd,” he reported and said people were kicking his vehicle. The man reported he was armed and said, “I can defend myself if necessary,” according to a transcript of the 911 call, which indicated there was yelling and screaming in the background.
The man asked the 911 operator if he should leave.
“You better send a cop to get here quick, I’mma (sic) kill this dude,” the man said, according to the transcript. “… They break this window I will shoot someone.”
The operator told the man he could drive away. He went north on Snelling Avenue to an Arby’s, where he met with a Roseville police officer.
The man voluntarily submitted to a preliminary breath test, which showed no alcohol in his system and he didn’t appear to be otherwise impaired, Linders said.
Police did not cite the man.
“It does not look at this point that there was anything criminal,” Linders. “This is just a tragedy — a 19-year-old was struck by a vehicle and she’s in grave condition.”
Shots ring out
Soon after the crash, officers were blocking traffic across from the Fair’s main gates at Snelling Avenue and Midway Parkway.
“There were a lot of officers there and that’s when they heard shots ring out,” Linders said. “Several gunshots are reported. As our officers do, they ran toward the gunfire” to look for anyone injured, and find the person or people responsible.
Based on the casings found at the scene, investigators determined there were two shooters.
The officers didn’t find any suspects, but they located a man suffering from a gunshot wound about a block south of the crash scene.
A man with a gunshot wound arrived soon after at United Hospital in St. Paul and he said he was outside the Fair’s gates when he was shot. Another injured man showed up at Regions Hospital.
A 20-year-old was shot in his lower torso, another 20-year-old was shot in the hand and an 18-year-old was shot in the shoulder.
No arrests have been made in connection to the shootings. The police department’s gang unit is involved in the investigation, but “until we find the people who pulled the trigger, we won’t know what their motivation” was, Linders said.
Police ask anyone with information, including video from the scene, to call them at 651-291-1111.
“The events that unfolded at the close of the Minnesota State Fair have no place in our community,” said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. “I thank our public safety staff for their swift response, and for their ongoing investigation to ensure those responsible will be held fully accountable.”