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Two off-duty Minneapolis police officers were charged Friday with drinking and recklessly firing their guns from a vehicle after leaving a party in Minneapolis last month.

Because the charges are felonies, Scott Mars, 34, and William Thornbury, 28, could lose their peace officer licenses if convicted. Both officers were also charged with carrying a gun while under the influence, a misdemeanor.

Mars admitted to driving up to the house of a man who complained about the noisy party, yelling a profanity while the man stood in his yard, and then firing shots from a 9-mm handgun out of the sunroof of his sport-utility vehicle, a court document said. More shots were fired as he drove away.

Both officers have been on paid administrative leave since the incident May 28. Chief Tim Dolan said the state's data practice law prevents him from discussing the case, but he has "a high level of expectation for the integrity and professionalism of our employees."

"It's unfortunate when any officer's actions calls in question the department's commitment to provide quality and professional service," he said.

Attorney Fred Bruno is representing Mars and Thornbury. When they make their first court appearance in 30 to 45 days, "I will start the process of defending them as vigorously as I can," he said.

Mars was also involved in the controversial fatal shooting of 15-year-old Courtney Williams in 2004. A grand jury cleared Mars of any criminal wrongdoing.

The May 28 incident involving Mars and Thornbury started about midnight. Officers were dispatched to the 4200 block of Wentworth Avenue S. in Minneapolis after receiving a 911 call from Ty Reed about shots being fired. The shot were fired after he told several people near his house that their party was getting too loud.

The people apologized and returned to the party. Minutes later, a man driving a black SUV pulled in front of Reed's house, swore and fired several shots. The SUV sped off and several more shots were fired. Discharged cartridge casings were found at the scene.

Officers stopped the SUV about 12:30 a.m., and found Mars and Thornbury inside. Mars admitted to being at the party and firing his gun out of the sunroof. Discharged casings were also found inside the SUV.

Mars, who had a blood-alcohol level of .19, was cited for misdemeanor driving while impaired. Thornbury had a level of .074.

The case was reviewed by the Dakota County attorney's office. Jim Backstrom, the county attorney, said this type of conduct is inappropriate and cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.

"Firing weapons in such a reckless way while under the influence of alcohol in a residential area could easily have tragic consequences," he said.

David Chanen • 612-673-4465