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Fireworks fired from cars, toward buildings in downtown Minneapolis

For hours, people were seen shooting off fireworks from the street in the city's Mill District neighborhood.

MINNEAPOLIS — Chaos erupted in Minneapolis' Mill District Monday night as witnesses reported people shooting off fireworks from the street, in some cases firing them in the direction of other pedestrians and nearby apartments and condos.

Video taken by a KARE 11 employee showed people shooting fireworks from cars on 2nd Street around 11:30 p.m. as they sped around the downtown neighborhood. 

Other videos showed individuals running through the streets carrying the lit fireworks and aiming them at other people.

"It felt like a war zone," resident Kevin Ringdahl said. "People were driving up and down the street, hanging out of cars, they were shooting roman candles at each other. They were throwing cherry bombs under cars."

In one clip shared with KARE, a group of people is seen running into the Mill Quarter Municipal Parking Ramp. A car quickly pulled up and a person hanging out of the rear passenger seat started shooting fireworks at the group through the ramp entrance.

"I was coming around the corner and it was just absolute chaos out here," another resident Nick Zillges said. Zillges is also a building manager of one of the buildings in the area. "People were hanging out the roof of cars, throwing fireworks at people."

Zillges also added that one of his residents captured video of a gun shootout in the courtyard next to the Guthrie. 

"Our building caught a stray so I actually have a glass company on the way right now to board it up and cover it up from last night," Zillges said. "Thankfully that unit was empty."

According to a KARE 11 employee who lives in the Mill District area, the fireworks continued for hours until police were able to disperse the crowd around 2 a.m.

Mayor Jacob Frey and interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman addressed the July 4 violence during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. 

"This conduct should not be accepted in any cities across the country," Mayor Frey said.

Chief Huffman said Minneapolis received more than 1,300 calls to 911 from 9 p.m. Monday to 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Chief Huffman said her department, Park Police and U of M Police responded to "three significant areas" in Minneapolis last night, involving shots fired and fireworks being shot toward people, property and officers.

Deputy Chief of Patrol Erick Fors said at least one arrest was made Monday night during an incident in which a police officer was assaulted.

"It's up to us to make sure we curb some of the recklessness and violence that we've seen," said Mayor Frey.

Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, said the chaos of July 4th undermines the progress of downtown, as businesses recover from COVID-19 and civil unrest. 

"What I saw was brazen, irresponsible, unsafe, and really totally unacceptable," Cramer said. "When situations like this occur, it really does begin to erode some of the confidence that people have. That's why we have to be able to respond more effectively than we saw last night."

According to Minnesota law, any aerial or explosive fireworks are illegal to sell, possess and use, except as permitted for licensed engineers. Wood and wire sparklers with less than 100 grams of mixture per item, nonexplosive and nonaerial sparkling items that contain 75 grams or less of chemical mixture per tube or a total of 500 grams or less for multiple tubes, and novelty items like trick noisemakers and party poppers are considered legal. However, these items are not permitted on public property under Minnesota law.

Those who violate Minnesota's fireworks laws could be subject to thousands of dollars in fines and potential jail time.

Around the same time that the fireworks started Monday night, seven people were injured and hospitalized after a shooting at nearby Boom Island Park. According to the Minneapolis Park Board, several people were in critical condition as of Tuesday morning.

While there were no formal Fourth of July events or fireworks in downtown Minneapolis because of weather and nearby construction, people had gathered at the park to celebrate the holiday.

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