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Rumors surrounding death of murder suspect lead to unrest in Minneapolis

A police spokesperson said officers were not involved in any deadly use of force, despite rumors circulating on social media.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey requested the support of the Minnesota National Guard and instituted a curfew to bring an end to unrest in downtown Minneapolis, after rumors surrounding a shooting prompted looting and destruction.

The curfew was in effect until 6 a.m. on Thursday morning.

Earlier Wednesday evening, police said a suspect in an earlier Minneapolis homicide case appeared to shoot and kill himself near Nicollet Mall.

Police chief Medaria Arradondo said officers were not involved in any deadly use of force, despite rumors circulating on social media.

Footage from city surveillance cameras was shown to reporters which appeared to show the man taking his own life.

KARE 11 initially posted the video online in order to dispel rumors and for the sake of transparency, but has now taken it down as the immediate public safety concern has passed.

"This is a tragic incident for all involved," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a news conference. "What our city needs right now is healing, we do not need destruction, we do not need property damage. That is not acceptable and it will not be tolerated."

"I will not allow more trauma to a city still grieving from May 25," Chief Arradondo said, referencing the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis officer, and unrest that followed. "We will clear out downtown. For those who choose to cause violence you will be arrested. This is my city, we will not tolerate that."

"What we're calling for right now is peace," Frey said, asking people to return to their homes.

Credit: Nate Anderson
A damaged store window in downtown Minneapolis following looting and rioting.

Arradondo said one officer was injured while responding to the unrest. The chief estimated there may have been as many as 500 people downtown at one point. Arradondo said he's received reports of broken windows and "shoplifting," but did not have an early damage estimate.

However, the Minneapolis curfew did not immediately put an end to the destruction. Around 11:30 p.m., KARE 11 reporter Deevon Rahming observed a fire at Brit's Pub on Nicollet Mall. 

About 20 minutes later, KARE 11's Lou Raguse reported the fire appeared to be out.

The incident that sparked the initial rumors happened around 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Police spokesman John Elder said it appeared a homicide suspect saw officers approaching him in downtown Minneapolis, then turned into a doorway near 8th and Nicollet, where he allegedly placed a gun to his chin and shot himself. Elder said officers then approached, slid the gun away, removed the man's backpack, turned him over and began CPR.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene. His identity has not been released.

Elder said the surveillance video was quickly released to the media in order to quell rumors. He said MPD was able to release this video from city cameras immediately because officers were not involved in any use of force. Had that been the case, Elder said all video would have been turned over to the BCA.

Police believed the man had been involved in an earlier shooting death inside a parking ramp near North 10th Street and Currie Avenue earlier Wednesday afternoon.

RELATED: Man found shot to death in downtown Minneapolis parking ramp

Crowds began gathering near the scene immediately following the shooting. KARE 11 crews witnessed looting at some downtown businesses, as police formed a line of squad cars to try to stop the unrest.

Governor Tim Walz mobilized the Minnesota National Guard and the State Patrol to help restore order in downtown Minneapolis.

The State Patrol said it was mobilizing about 150 troopers to downtown Minneapolis, including its Mobile Field Force and Special Response Team. 

The National Guard deployment is set to include members of a military police unit, the governor said.

"Minneapolis, it’s time to heal. We must rebuild and recover. Dangerous, unlawful behavior will not be tolerated. The State Patrol is headed to Minneapolis to help restore order. I remain in close contact with the city and every state resource stands ready to help bring peace," Walz said in his tweet.

"Not just Minnesota, but as a nation, this pain continues on," Gov. Walz said in a late night news conference, referencing feelings of racial injustice and calls for reform. "(That's) not going to be fixed by violence and looting Target."

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey thanked the Governor and called for healing in a series of tweets.

Due to the police activity and unrest downtown, Metro Transit said Blue Line light rail service was suspended for the night starting at 10:30 p.m. until further notice. Just after 5:30 a.m. Thursday, Metro Transit tweeted that bus and train service had resumed serving downtown Minneapolis.

By 2 a.m., things had quieted down in downtown Minneapolis and near Nicollet Mall, although law enforcement was still patrolling the area.

MORE NEWS: Frey, Arradondo announce changes to MPD's use-of-force policies