INSIDE Despite gunfire, no bystanders were at risk, police say
By Janice Gregorson
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
Even though a shooting in northwest Rochester on Tuesday occurred at a busy sports complex, no one was at risk of immediate harm, Rochester police say.
Capt. Brian Winters said no one was close to the scene when gunfire erupted at the Roy Watson Youth Complex. A couple witnesses were seated a distance away. Other witnesses were driving in the area.
"We have no reports that anyone had to take cover or anything," he said.
Across the street is Aldrich Memorial Nursery School. Winters said there is no indication any children there were at risk.
Nina Sargent, the school’s board president, said the shooting occurred after children had been dismissed for the day.
"Of course parents are concerned because of our proximity to the area where the shooting occurred, but we do have security plans in place, and we are reviewing them with the police department," Sargent said. "They are patrolling the area, and we feel really confident with their presence. They’ve been really supportive and vigilant with us.
"People are asking about it, certainly, but we know as much as the news is reporting about the incident. We’re hoping, also, that as the police are saying, it’s an isolated incident and they’re going to apprehend everybody who was involved in it."
Still, Winters said, he didn’t want to minimize the seriousness of the incident. Any time there is gunfire, people can be hurt or killed, he said.
Police gang investigator Steve Thompson said this is a gang-relating shooting, part of a feud between two groups involved in similar incidents last fall.
Gangs have been active in Rochester for 15 years, but Thompson has expressed concern about more violent behavior.
He has identified 19 gangs with members in Rochester. Some gangs have 50 to 60 members; some just five.
He said that since the incidents last fall, there have been some "minor scrapes" between the two groups involved "but nothing that would have led us to believe we would have a shooting."
Thompson said police have suspects. He said he wouldn’t be specific about the groups involved until arrests are made. "But we know who they are," he said.
Winters said officers at the scene were told the shooting occurred at the north end of Watson Field, in the west parking lot.
The investigation created a rush-hour traffic jam, with cars unable to access 41st Street Northwest via West River Parkway. Cars were routed through the Think bank parking lot.
Investigators roped off a portion of the sports complex parking lot with yellow tape on Tuesday evening as they continued to comb through the scene. Paint marked where shell casings were found in the parking lot.