On an autumn night when a record crowd packed Allianz Field to cheer on Minnesota United in a playoff game, fans left the stadium to find flashing police lights and a mayor deeply frustrated over gun violence.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter left his dinner table Sunday night to respond to a shooting across the street from the stadium where the Loons played the L.A. Galaxy before nearly 20,000 fans. The game ended just as Carter addressed media gathered at the corner of W. University Avenue and N. Pascal Street, where a gunfight had left two men hospitalized. Throngs of fans streamed past as Carter spoke, some pausing to take in the scene.
“This has to stop right now,” Carter said. “St. Paul has been in a cycle of violence for far too long.”
Carter called on the entire community to pitch in and address “the core causes of violence.”
“Every single one of us has a role in ensuring our city is safe,” he said. “Solving this is going to take more than police resources,” he added, calling on nonprofits, pastors, community leaders, mothers and families to get involved.
Two hours earlier, about 7:30 p.m., gunfire broke out in a parking lot behind the Laundry Place, a laundromat at 1475 W. University Av. Two men were injured, police said, both with noncritical wounds.
According to St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linders, a group of people had gathered behind the laundromat when another group came by and gunshots were exchanged.
One man was hit in the arm and had a bullet graze his head. The other had multiple gunshot wounds to the torso. Both were being treated at Regions Hospital.
Police gave no information on the identity of the two men but said they believe one of them is a shooter. The other shooter is at large, Linders said, asking residents to call 651-266-5650 with information.
Yellow crime scene tape cordoned off a block-long stretch of Pascal, as well as parking lots surrounding the strip mall where the laundromat is located. Police recovered a handgun from the scene, Linders said.
Music and crowd chants from the stadium were clearly audible as investigators processed the scene.
Asked whether he was disturbed about a shooting so near a high-profile event, Carter replied that the location didn’t matter.
“It’s not that it happened at Allianz Field,” he said. “What’s heartbreaking about this is that it happened in our city at all.”
As Carter spoke, a passing fan shouted, “Second Amendment!” and another added, “Here for a reason.”
Carter said he would gather his cabinet and immediately start examining the issue of violence.
Twenty-four people have been killed in the city so far this year, tying St. Paul’s deadliest year of the past decade — 24 for all of 2017. The city had nine homicides in September alone.