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Man facing federal charges in connection with 19 Bar firearm incident

The incident is just the latest example of threatening behavior toward the LGBTQ+ community, coming just one week after a gunman opened fire at Colorado's Club Q.
Credit: KARE 11

MINNEAPOLIS — A man accused of brandishing a gun at a popular LGBTQ+ bar in Minneapolis and yelling homophobic slurs is now facing federal charges.

A criminal complaint first filed in Hennepin County on Nov. 30 shows 29-year-old Conell Walter Harris is charged with possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and reckless disregard risk. In a court affidavit filed the same day, the United States Attorney's Office took control of the case on the basis that Harris "knowingly and intentionally possessed a firearm" despite having been prohibited from doing so.

The complaint and affidavit outline the events that allegedly took place at Minneapolis' 19 Bar the night of Nov. 28, claiming officers first responded to the bar around 11 p.m. on reports of a person with a gun.

When officers arrived, prosecutors say, bar patrons identified Harris. The complaint says Harris "resisted arrest and kept reaching into his hoodie pocket," leading police to recover a .45-caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun.

Court documents allege that based on eyewitness accounts, police were informed that Harris was "acting strangely" when he entered the bar and became upset when an employee asked to see his ID. A 19 Bar bartender then asked Harris to leave, according to the complaint, and Harris refused, telling the bartender, "I ain't going nowhere," while pulling out the firearm.

Prosecutors say Harris then began yelling profanities and slurs at the bartender before leaving for a short time and then returning.

When Harris later reentered the bar, court documents allege he began playing pool until officers arrived.

Court records say Harris has two prior convictions resulting in prohibition from possessing a firearm — in addition to two priors for actually possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

In his first court hearing before a U.S. District Court judge Thursday, Harris was ordered to remain in custody until a formal detention hearing scheduled for Dec. 5.

Harris is currently being held in the Hennepin County Jail. He faces a maximum of 20 years behind bars if he's convicted.

This is just the latest example of threatening behavior against the LGBTQ+ community, which comes less than a week after a gunman opened fire at Colorado's Club Q — a gay and lesbian nightclub in Colorado Springs — killing five and injuring 18 others. The 22-year-old suspect allegedly used an AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon and was taken down and held by patrons until police arrived to make an arrest.

Following the nightclub shooting, local LGBTQ+ leaders expressed solidarity with the wider community.

"I think we are all certainly feeling, you know, a sense of hurt for the folks deeply affected by this in Colorado Springs," said Kat Rohn, executive director with OutFront MN

They added, "In the midst of tragedy and deeply hurtful moments, try to remember that we are still joyful, celebratory people and our lives aren't defined by tragedy, to tragedy or victimization."  

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