ST. PAUL — A shootout inside a bar near downtown St. Paul “created chaos and tragedy,” leaving 14 injured and a woman dead early Sunday, police said. Three men are under arrest, the police chief announced late Sunday morning, Oct. 10.

The Seventh Street Truck Park at 214 W. Seventh St. was crowded with people enjoying a weekend night “when multiple individuals decided to pull out guns, with no regard for human life, and pull the trigger,” said Steve Linders, police spokesman.

Police Chief Todd Axtell said he doesn’t recall a St. Paul shooting with anything close to this number of victims since he became an officer in the city in 1989. He said he talked to the family of the slain woman and “they are absolutely devastated.”

Marquisha Wiley, 27, was an innocent victim caught in the crossfire — there were gunshots fired at people behind her when she was fatally shot, her grandfather said of his understanding. He described her as “very loving.” Wiley was trained as a veterinary technician and worked in the field.

Police took Terry Lorenzo Brown Jr., 33, Devondre Trevon Phillips, 29 and Jeffrey Orlando Hoffman, 32, into custody. They’re in the hospital being treated for injuries sustained during the incident — they were among the 15 people shot, Linders said. They will be booked into the Ramsey County jail, awaiting charging decisions.

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Four of the injured were taken to Regions Hospital, three to United Hospital and seven to Hennepin Healthcare’s HCMC. Some were transported by ambulance and some in private vehicles, according to Linders.

It’s possible there are other people who were injured, Linders said at an early morning press conference. Police are asking anyone else who was hurt in the shooting or has information to contact them at 651-266-5650.

‘Complex investigation’ underway

After receiving multiple 911 calls at 12:15 a.m., all officers working in St. Paul at the time, along with other law enforcement agencies, responded to the bar — which is just down the street from the Xcel Energy Center.

Officers found a situation that Linders described as “hellish.” They located victims in the street, on the sidewalk and inside the business, and worked with good Samaritans to render aid and clear the area for St. Paul fire department paramedics to respond.

“I think about the young woman who died,” Linders said. “One minute she’s having a good time, the next minute she’s lying in her friends’ arms who are trying to save her life and she didn’t make it. I can’t think of anything worse.”

Paramedics pronounced the woman dead at the scene. Fourteen other people were taken to area hospitals for treatment; all are expected to survive. People sustained gunshot wounds to the ankles and arms, and some were more seriously injured, Linders said.

A motive has yet to be confirmed, police said earlier on Sunday. Asked whether the shooting appeared random, Linders said, “Random in the sense that innocent victims were struck, yes. Random in the sense that … the people shooting at each other didn’t know each other, probably not.”

Five investigators from the St. Paul homicide unit are working with patrol officers, the forensic services unit and the video management unit on the case. It is a “complex investigation” with “bullet holes all over in the bar” — the police department will reconstruct the shooting “and then deconstruct everything to figure out what happened,” Linders said.

“My heart breaks for the woman who was killed, her loved ones and everyone else who was in that bar this morning,” Axtell said in a statement. “In an instant, they found themselves caught in a hellish situation. I want them to know that we have the best investigators in the country, and we won’t stop until we find the people responsible for this madness. We will do our part to hold them accountable.”

Nearby resident lost track of gunshots

John Maloney was in his living room in the Oxbo Urban Rental apartments above the bar when he heard a volley of gunfire.

“All of a sudden — I lost count — I heard multiple gunshots, pop, pop, pop, pop,” he said.

He went out on his patio overlooking Seventh Street and saw a “mass influx of people leaving the bar out onto the street. People were screaming and hollering and yelling and running everywhere … I’ve never seen anything like it.”

People on the sidewalk below began rendering first aid to those who had been shot, Maloney said.

While there was occasionally a loud fight at the bar, usually it was quiet living above the bar, Maloney said.

“It is concerning,” he said. “I don’t know how to feel about it. You hear about mass shootings, but I’ve never experienced one.”

St. Paul police are thankful to workers at the Ramsey County Emergency Communications Center who took the 911 calls “and stayed calm and kept everybody calm and got our officers here with good information and clear communication,” Linders said.

The Ramsey County sheriff’s office, Metro Transit police, Minnesota State Patrol and Maplewood police assisted St. Paul in responding to the shooting, with some taking other 911 calls. There was a shooting outside another St. Paul bar, the Nickel Joint on Blair Avenue in Frogtown, about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Linders said. A 24-year-old man was wounded in the arm.

32nd homicide of year

The homicide on West Seventh Street was the 32nd of the year in the city. There were 34 homicides throughout 2020, which matched the record set in St. Paul in 1992.

“Our community is devastated by the shocking scenes from last night,” Mayor Melvin Carter said in a statement. “As our St. Paul officers work to bring those responsible for these senseless acts into custody, our work to build more proactive and comprehensive public safety strategies is more urgent than ever. We will never accept violence in our community.”

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum said she knows the St. Paul community will support the victims and their families, and she said her prayers are with them.

“The epidemic of gun violence plaguing the Twin Cities has hit us in St. Paul with a mass shooting event that can only be described as a horror,” McCollum said in a statement. “… I also want to pledge my full support to the St. Paul Police and all our law enforcement officials as they pursue the perpetrators of this horrendous crime. I am committed to keeping St. Paul safe and that means working with all community leaders to get guns off our streets and out of the hands of criminals. We must never allow this kind of criminal act to happen again.”