June 21, 2021

Man charged with murder in downtown Mpls. shootout

A 24-year-old man was charged Wednesday with murder and attempted murder in the mass shooting outside a downtown Minneapolis nightclub over the weekend that left two people dead and seven wounded in a brief but furious gun battle.

Jawan C. Carroll of St. Paul remained jailed on nine counts in lieu of $1 million bail before a court appearance Thursday.

On Monday, the two people fatally shot outside the Monarch club in the 300 block of N. 1st Avenue were identified as Christopher R. Jones Jr., 24, of Brooklyn Park and Charlie B. Johnson, 21, of Golden Valley.

Jones died while exchanging gunfire with Carroll on the crowded sidewalk shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday, according to the charges. Jones was shot twice in the chest and elsewhere, the Medical Examiner’s Office disclosed.

Johnson was shot in the back before 2 a.m. Saturday while fleeing the chaotic scene on a warm spring night, the charges read.

Among the seven others who were wounded — four women and three men — one was reported to be in critical condition.

The most seriously wounded was a woman shot in the cheek and neck with another shot coming within an inch of her skull, according to the charges. A man took three shots in the shoulder and buttocks. Another man was grazed under his right eye.

“The night of the shooting, seven homicide detectives came in along with multiple members of the shoot team,” police spokesman John Elder said Wednesday afternoon. “They worked side by side with patrol officers [and] assault detectives through the night to put this complex case together.”

Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, said the ability of police to make sense of such an unwieldy set of circumstances in order to make an arrest was exemplary.

“What’s not debatable … is what they did in this case to hold people accountable for their behavior,” he said. “It’s a critical function that the ‘defund the police’ crowd doesn’t have an answer for.”

The casualty-laden bloodshed outside the Monarch club accounted for two of four people slain in the city over the weekend, prompting police to bring in outside help to try to deal with the violence.

There have been 32 homicides in the city so far this year, following an especially deadly 2020, when 84 people were slain. The 2019 total was 48. As of the weekend, more than 190 people had been killed or wounded in shooting incidents, compared with about 75 at this point in 2020, according to Police Department data.

The call for additional law enforcement also comes after three children, 11 years old and younger, were hit by gunfire in recent weeks, killing one and seriously injuring two. No arrests have been made in any of those cases.

Cramer, whose council represents the interests of many businesses, said the entire reputation of downtown is on the line, even though this mass shooting was confined to one specific block well after most entertainment and dining locales had closed for the night.

“People don’t always distinguish the situation at bar close at 2 a.m. and business hours or during a Twins game,” said Cramer, who served on the City Council from 1984 to 1993. “These incidents are going to have a spillover effect on the entirety of downtown.”

Johnson was visiting downtown with friends Friday night to celebrate their graduation the next day from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. They were walking home when the gunfire erupted, his father, Greg Johnson, said Sunday.

According to the criminal complaint:

Video surveillance outside the nightclub showed Carroll shooting at Jones. Police recognized Carroll in the video from previous encounters with law enforcement and know him as associated with the Tre Tres street gang.

Earlier images from the surveillance video showed Carroll “and several companions” on the sidewalk just south of the club. Carroll’s group then had “verbal exchanges” with a group including Jones.

Someone with Carroll punched Jones in the head, then Carroll opened fire on Jones at close range. Carroll kept firing as Jones ran toward the Monarch entrance.

Just before reaching the entrance, Jones turned and returned gunfire at Carroll.

Carroll kept firing, prompting two other men to shoot back. Carroll kept firing although bystanders were in harm’s way. Jones fell to the sidewalk less than 10 seconds after the first shots were fired.

A friend of Johnson’s said the two of them had just stepped out of an alley near the Monarch and onto the sidewalk when the gunfire erupted. Johnson fled down the street and was shot in the back, struggled for a bit and then fell to the spot where he died.

Several hours after the shooting, investigators tracked Carroll to Bloomington and arrested him soon after he drove from a hotel.

Carroll’s criminal history in Minnesota includes several pending felony cases, among them second-degree assault and fleeing police in a vehicle.

Correction:
Previous versions of this story had an incorrect first name for the suspect. His name is Jawan C. Carroll.

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