Shooting at Minnesota State Fair leads to mass panic, early closure
The Minnesota State Fair Police Department responded to gunshots shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday
A person was shot during a brawl that broke out at the Minnesota State Fair on Saturday, leading to a mass crowd panic and exodus, as well as an early closure of the fairgrounds.
Minnesota State Fair Police responded to gunshots in the Midway section of the fairgrounds near the intersection of Carnes Avenue and Liggett Street shortly after 10 p.m., according to FOX 9. The area was heavily populated with guests and law enforcement when the shooting occurred.
State Fair Police Chief Ron Knafla said during a press conference Sunday that the shooting took place within 15 to 20 feet of officers.
A victim with a non-life threatening gunshot wound to the leg was found by emergency responders, and paramedics transported the individual to the hospital. Police chased the gunman but were unable to make an arrest as the suspect slipped into the crowd.
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Knafla said police were already at the scene of the shooting responding to a report of a brawl and people running through the Midway. Witnesses said they saw a fight near the area, and that police quickly moved to end it.
One witness, Ali Nesmith, told FOX 9 she was at a nearby bar when she observed a commotion. She said she witnessed about three people fighting. Nesmith noticed her eyes started burning as people began running. An officer later told her police had deployed pepper spray.
"A fog overtook the intersection and you could hear echoes of people coughing and gagging, everyone was covering their nose and mouth with their shirts and sweatshirts." Nesmith said.
"There was a shift, people were running away, and then people just started booking out of there. It all happened so quick … all I knew is that I just wanted to get away from there," she continued.
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Witnesses said they had heard gunfire at the fair.
The State Fair said in a statement shortly before 11 p.m. that the fairgrounds "began closing early this evening at approximately 10:20 p.m. due to disturbances in the area of the Midway. There is nothing more to confirm at this time."
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a Democrat, thanked law enforcement for their response to the disruption.
"Grateful for the coordinated law enforcement presence at the State Fair," Walz wrote in a tweet. "Officers are working quickly to usher folks off the fairgrounds and respond to reports of violence in the Midway area. We’re monitoring the situation and working quickly to restore order."
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Last weekend, the state fair was forced to shut down rides and cancel a concert after strong storms knocked down trees and caused power outages across the Minneapolis area.
Other states have also experienced chaos at their fairs recently.
A fight broke out at the Western Idaho Fair on August 26, resulting in one person getting stabbed and another suffering an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound.
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That same night, a shooting at a county fair in Fayetteville, Arkansas, left one person injured. The suspect had also fled the scene but has since been taken into custody.