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Two killed, 8 injured in downtown Minneapolis shootout

Police say one gunman is dead and another is in custody in the incident, one of several late Friday into early Saturday that renews concern over downtown safety.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis police said two people are dead and eight others injured in an shooting that took place early Saturday morning in downtown Minneapolis.

In an evening press briefing, Minneapolis PD's John Elder said one of the shooters was among those dead, and that another shooter is in custody.

The shooting - just one of several that happened Friday night into Saturday morning - is bringing very little comfort to those questioning whether or not a return to downtown is even feasible at this point, as downtown leaders come up with new strategies to win people back.

"I think it's going to be critical if downtown is going to survive what just happened. There's so many companies that have essentially just sent everybody home and getting people to come back has been a great deal of resistance," said Jim Kellison who has an office in downtown Minneapolis.

According to a series of posts on MPD's Twitter account early Saturday morning, the shootings happened around 2 a.m. on the 300 block of 1st Avenue North.

An MPD news release said officers were working the evening bar closing time in the area when they heard the sound of a gunshot. Officers then ran to the area "and encountered an exceptionally chaotic scene," the news release said.

Police said several people were found laying on the ground "with obvious wounds" and discovered two men dead.

According to the news release, police said ambulances were having a difficult time responding to the area because of the crowds, and additional law enforcement officers were called in to help from Minneapolis and surrounding communities.

MPD said the victims included five men and five women, all adults. In addition to the two men killed, one other man was in critical condition as of Saturday night. Seven others were treated at hospitals in the area with what police describe as "non life-threatening injuries."

MPD spokesman John Elder said "order (is) fully restored to the scene and surrounding areas" and there was no further active threat, and no other known victims.

According to the news release, the early investigation shows the shootings happened after "two people were standing in a crowded area and got into a verbal confrontation. Both individuals pulled out guns and began shooting at each other."

Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). 

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey released a statement about the shooting Saturday morning, saying MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo and Office of Violence Prevention Director Sasha Cotton have his full support in securing resources for the "hard work ahead."

"Last night again brought tragic news," Frey wrote. "Again, our collective conscience is shocked. Lives have been lost on our Northside and downtown. And we are left to process the reality that bullets have struck innocent bystanders, people welcoming the warm weather and celebrating being together again."

Minneapolis police say they're increasing patrols across downtown over the next few days in an effort to combat some of the violent crimes in the area.

The University of St. Thomas reports that one of its students, Charlie Johnson, a senior set to graduate from the School of Engineering Saturday afternoon, is the second individual shot and killed.

“Our community is shocked and saddened by the news of Charlie’s death. We grieve with his family and friends and pray for their comfort. On a day he and his family should have been celebrating his graduation from our School of Engineering, we are devastated by this loss,” said President Julie Sullivan.

The university says the campus ministry and President Sullivan have been in touch with Johnson's family, and honored him across all three of the school's commencement ceremonies Saturday. 

A family member accepted his diploma on his behalf, and a cap and gown were placed upon an empty seat among his graduating class.

MORE NEWS: Family: 6-year-old granddaughter of activist KG Wilson dies after being shot

EARLIER THIS MONTH: Six injured in separate shootings across Minneapolis