Victims and witnesses of a shooting that wounded five people last weekend at Lansing Corners near Austin have stymied investigators with their silence, slowing an investigation that authorities say involves gangs.
"There are several gangs involved in this situation.... there is fear of retaliation," said Mower County Terese Amazi. "We do believe there will be some sort of retaliation, but we don't know where."
Five people were shot early Sunday morning as an album release party broke up at the Lansing Corners event center. Amazi, who refused to release the names of the victims, said one person was released from the hospital and the conditions of the others have been upgraded. The sheriff's department has submitted evidence to Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, including bullet casings, bullets from victims at the hospital and one handgun. Authorities believe more than one gun was used. No one is in custody.
About 125 to 150 young people attended the event, according to Lansing Corners owner Dave Olson.
The area's second shooting in a matter of days has rattled the rural community just north of Austin, according to Mower County Board member Tim Gabrielson. The two events were not related.
"I couldn't hardly believe it, to start out with," said Gabrielson, who was recently elected to represent that district for a second term. "It's just not something that happens in Mower County. Period."
"Right now, everyone is pretty tight-lipped," Mower County Chief Deputy Mark May said Monday morning.
It remains uncertain what happened Saturday night to spark the gunfire, which Olson said sounded like fireworks.
Olson, the former Austin Area Chamber of Commerce president, rented the event center out to Daniel Stuke, of Lakeville, for a promotional event for various hip hop artists. It's the first time Olson has worked with Stuke, who appears to run a fledgling entertainment company called Studio Seven/One; no phone number was available and the studio just created a Twitter account on Nov. 1.
Stuke's last tweet before Saturday's event from his personal account was the following: "Who is ready to turn this show the (f***) up in Austin?!?!?"
Studio Seven/One's tweet immediately following the shooting says: "Thankfully our crew is still in one piece. R.I.P. to those that are not."
Aftermath of show
The show was promoted as an 18 and older event, but two of the people injured were 17. Amazi said alcohol bottles were strewn about the parking lot when her department responded to the incident.
Olson said Stuke provided his own security detail of six to 10 people.
"It sounds like there must have been a lot of liquor going on and not a lot of thinking," Gabrielson said. "It's a shock to me and I'm sure everyone else. We're just not used to this sort of thing happening around here.
"I think the owner at that place will be looking a little more closely when he goes to rent the place out (in the future). I certainly hope so. If it continues to happen, we'll certainly have to look at his conditional-use permit."
Authorities removed the yellow crime scene tape from Lansing Corners on Sunday morning. Olson says his business will go on as usual — or try to, anyway — while the investigation continues.
"I'm not exactly sure when the next event is and I'm not sure how it will effect our business," said Olson, who purchased the 1938 facility at auction in summer 2011 for $64,000. "It's too early to tell.
"Things have been going really well out there up until this point."