ROCHESTER, Minn. - Around 50 people were reportedly involved in a large fight that also included gunfire early Sunday morning.
The Rochester Police Department said officers responded to an altercation outside Los Jarritos Cafe on 17th Avenue NW, with many emergency vehicles seen driving through the area around 1:45 a.m. As police arrived, they heard gunfire and found two shell casings at the scene.
Police said Monday that the fight stemmed from a group of people blocking someone from getting into their vehicle.
Some people involved in the fight suffered minor injuries. No arrests have been reported.
A restaurant staff member who was working when the fight broke out says it happened in one of the far corners of the Miracle Mile parking lot. He hopes this incident won't deter people from coming to Los Jarritos. The staff doesn't want people who are going to be violent to hang out inside or outside the restaurant.
If it seems like you're hearing about more gun incidents in Rochester lately, Alisha Eiken, co-lead of the local chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America explains it's not surprising, because gun violence is on the rise statistically across the country. "We know that long-standing inequities in racial discrimination and inequities in things like health care, and housing, and education funding are all things that have contributed to gun violence in the past and those things were just enhanced during the pandemic. So it's not a surprise that we're seeing an increase in violence and gun violence everywhere," says Eiken. "I also think we're seeing here locally an increase in intervention programs to combat that which is really exciting."
If you're concerned about gun violence in Rochester, Eiken tells one of the ways you can help is by supporting community-driven prevention programs such as the CERT team, Playground All-Stars, and Barber Shop Social Services by giving your time or money.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety data, there were more than 3,900 additional firearm deaths and more than 9,200 firearm injuries in 2020 compared to 2019.
"There were record-setting gun sales so we know that the prevalence of guns is even more common now and we also know that the presence of guns doesn't make any of us safer. It makes all of us at higher risk. If the presence of more guns made us safer, we'd be the safest country in the world, but we're not," says Eiken.
Eiken adds that many of these purchases were by first-time gun owners. "These might not be gun owners who are necessarily prepared to be safe and responsible gun owners. They might now understand the importance of safe storage," says Eiken. "We have also seen an uptick in the tragic unintentional shootings amongst children. I really want to remind any gun owners at home that if you own a gun, it needs to be locked and it needs to be stored separately from the ammunition."