By Dan Nienaber
The Free Press
MANKATO — Three men were arrested after two off-duty police officers reported hearing shots fired at a Kato Entertainment Center event and a third officer happened upon a disturbance at a nearby convenience store.
The two off-duty officers, who were in uniform because they had been hired to work at the Kato Entertainment Center event, reported hearing shots fired in a back parking lot at about 2:05 a.m. Sunday.
When they checked the area, they didn't find anyone injured or anyone displaying a weapon. They also didn't find any casings, said Cmdr. Dan Schisel of the Mankato Department of Public Safety.
An on-duty officer responding to the gunfire report noticed a disturbance at the nearby Holiday convenience store on Riverfront Drive. When the officer stopped at the store, he was pushed by a man who tried to force his way out of the store, Schisel said. A stun device was used to stop the man, who allegedly had a Ruger 9 mm handgun in the waistband of his pants.
Police were able to determine the Ruger had not been fired recently, so they do not suspect it was shot in the ballroom parking lot. The man arrested for pushing the officer, and possessing the gun, is 20-year-old Davon Maurice Jones of Minneapolis.
Jones was released from prison in February after serving more than two years for first-degree burglary involving a handgun. That incident happened in Hennepin County.
Two other men also were arrested during the disturbance. They are Michael Corey Jones, 19, of Minneapolis and Arthur Lord Fields, 23, of St. Paul.
The event at the Kato Entertainment Center, called “Turn Down 4 What,” was advertised as an 18 and older show to people living in the Twin Cities area via Twitter, Facebook and other social media. It was advertised by a promotions company called Midwest Movement and featured DJ Ray Mills.
Larry Bowers, Kato Entertainment Center general manager, said it’s possible the gunshot sounds were the result of fireworks. He had kicked someone out of the building about an hour earlier for lighting a cherry bomb.
Wands that detect metal had been used to check people entering the center before the show, but people inside still thought the cherry bomb was a gunshot, Bowers said.
“I turned around and everyone was running because they assumed it was a gun,” he said. “When there’s a show like this in the Cities ... they can find a way to get a gun in if they want to.”
There were at least two party buses from the Twin Cities that brought people to the show, Bowers said. A majority of the people who attended were below the legal drinking age of 21. Most of the people drinking stayed in a bar area that was off limits to those who weren’t old enough to drink.
Except for the cherry bomb incident and whatever happened in the parking lot after the show, there were no problems at the event, Bowers said. He will be requiring more off-duty police officers and bouncers for similar shows in the future.
Schisel said police reports about the incident also said buses had been used to bring some of the spectators to Mankato. There have been reports of similar events in other cities drawing police attention.
Five people were shot outside a teen dance at an event center called Lansing Corners, which is between Austin and Blooming Prairie on Highway 218, in November. An event that had been promoted as “St. Cloud: The Takeover” was canceled in January after the police chief there put out a warning that the event would be closely watched. That was also an 18 and older event that included bus transportation from the Twin Cities.
The Mankato Department of Public Safety will be assessing what happened at the Kato Entertainment Center and deciding how future events should be handled, Schisel said.