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.