Football / Sports

Vikings player among 9 hurt in Minneapolis nightclub shooting

MINNEAPOLIS -- Police are looking for a gunman who shot nine people, including a Minnesota Vikings player, inside a downtown Minneapolis club just before bar closing time Saturday morning.

The shooting occurred at the 400 Soundbar at about 1:40 a.m. Off-duty police officers responded to the shots fired and found nine people injured with gunshot wounds, including one victim who needed CPR at the scene. Police said Saturday that the incident is gang-related, with the suspect targeting one of the victims.

"This is an isolated incident," Assistant Police Chief Matt Clark said. "It's very unusual for the downtown area." Police recovered the weapon at the scene.

The victims, both men and women who are not being identified by police, were treated at Hennepin County Medical Center and North Memorial Medical Center.

Two of the victims with serious injuries are in stable condition and are expected to survive.

Among the injured was Linval Joseph, a defensive tackle with the Minnesota Vikings. In a prepared statement Saturday, the Vikings described Joseph as an "innocent bystander" and said he was hit in the calf by a stray bullet. The injury was minor, and Joseph was treated and released at a hospital, the Vikings said.

"It is notable because these incidents are so rare," Mayor Betsy Hodges said Saturday.

She said the city asked Soundbar to close, and owner Johann Sfaellos voluntarily has closed the club indefinitely.

"I'm not in the business for that, I'm not in the business for violence," Sfaellos said Saturday. "This is not what I'm looking for."

The club owner was there early Saturday morning when the shooting happened and said that, before the incident, it was a typical night with bar patrons busy socializing and dancing.

"Suddenly, a person just pop, pop, pop," he said of the shooter, who he said dropped the gun on the ground and disappeared before his security officers located the gun. "The whole thing was surreal. It was out of the blue. It was a normal night, nice party, nice crowd. And then some guy started shooting. No arguments, no nothing."

Sfaellos said Soundbar has security officers who check for weapons before people enter the club and "we can't figure out how 1/8the shooter3/8 got in."

"We get the least calls to police," said Sfaellos, a longtime owner of several downtown clubs. "We don't do that crowd."

But Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal said the city has had a series of licensing issues and had to increase security. And within the last month, Council Member Jacob Frey, whose ward includes downtown, said he has met with Soundbar owners about safety issues.

As for downtown Minneapolis safety, city leaders said Saturday that the police presence has ramped up recently with more reserve police officers added to the patrols and more officers working during the "power shift" when bars close.

Now, investigators are reviewing surveillance cameras at Soundbar and other evidence, and have interviewed more than 50 witnesses. Police ask any other witnesses or people with information to call Minneapolis police at 612-692-TIPS (8477).

(c)2014 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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