Argument Led to Gunfire at Minneapolis' Target Center

Suspect believed to have entered with weapon despite bag checks


Minneapolis police are looking for the man who fired a handgun at another spectator in the Target Center stands Saturday night as thousands watched a mixed martial arts competition.

Contrary to witness accounts published in the Pioneer Press, no one was shot or injured during the incident, which happened about 10:45 p.m. during a break between bouts at the "World Fighting Championships - Downtown Throwdown."

Minneapolis police Sgt. Tammy Dietrich said Sunday that the shooter fired one round at the intended victim while the two men were fighting in the seating area. She said it was not a random shooting.

"These two people know each other through a mutual acquaintance," she said.

Police have the name of a suspect, who fled the arena after the shooting, Dietrich said.

Officers interviewed the intended victim - a 27-year-old Minneapolis man - at the scene.

Minneapolis police Lt. Brad Sporny would not say whether investigators determined where the bullet ended up or whether a shell casing was found in the arena.

Saturday's event involved elements of kickboxing, wrestling and martial arts.

Sandy Sweetser, Target Center's senior director of marketing and event services, said she is not aware of any previous occurrence of gunfire in the arena, which opened in 1990.

Target Center's in-house security and off-duty Minneapolis police officers provided security at Saturday's event, she said.

Bags were checked before spectators entered the building, which is standard policy before Timberwolves games, she said. The same policy was used before the July 7 Prince concert and Sept. 9 World Wrestling Entertainment "Smackdown" event.

Sweetser did not know when metal detectors were last used at the arena. She said the event promoter can request that metal detectors be used, but that was not the case Saturday.

Fighter Marcus LeVesseur said the shot was fired moments before he was to step into the ring for his title bout.

"I was wondering what the holdup was, and someone said someone fired a .22," said LeVesseur, of Minneapolis. "I was hoping they weren't going to shut it down for the night. I just tried to stay behind the scenes and stay focused."

The event resumed after a half-hour delay, Sweetser said, and ended shortly before midnight.