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Duluth man charged with firing gun outside downtown bar

Authorities said the pistol lacked a serial number and could not be traced.

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DULUTH — A man allegedly fired two shots while standing in a large crowd outside a downtown bar minutes after closing time early Sunday.

Sanchez Benito Urrutia, 25, of Duluth, was arrested a short time later and found in possession of a pistol that lacked a serial number, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in State District Court.

Sanchez Benito Urrutia.jpg
Sanchez Benito Urrutia

The Duluth Police Department was called to the area in front of Aces on First, 113 W. First St., at approximately 2:06 a.m. The complaint states that two bouncers reported seeing a suspect fire into the air before taking off with another person in a white SUV. They also provided suspect descriptions and a license plate number.

Another witness told officers that he was standing in an alcove between Aces and Spurs on First when he heard two gunshots coming from the direction of Spurs, 109 W. First St. The witness provided officers with two 9 mm shell casings that he said he retrieved from the sidewalk after seeing a man flee in the white SUV.

The complaint states that officers also reviewed surveillance video, which showed two men standing in the middle of a crowd before one, wearing a red sweatshirt, raised his hand in the air and fired two apparent gunshots, causing the crowd to disperse.

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Officers quickly found the SUV matching witness descriptions, stopping it nearby on the 100 block of West Superior Street. Urrutia, the driver, allegedly had a firearm in plain view on the floor, partially under his seat. The complaint notes that he was also wearing the same clothes as described by witnesses and seen in the video.

Urrutia made an initial court appearance Tuesday on felony counts of reckless discharge of a firearm within a municipality and possession of a firearm with no serial number, along with a gross misdemeanor count of possession of a pistol without a permit.

A check of court records indicates that Urrutia's criminal history is limited to traffic offenses. Judge Eric Hylden granted a request from St. Louis County prosecutor Nichole Carter to set bail at $25,000.

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Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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