U of M to increase weekend police presence after 4 injured in fireworks incidents last weekend

The University of Minnesota says it will implement a targeted law enforcement presence for the next two weekends after multiple people were injured in fireworks incidents this past weekend.

Minneapolis police say investigators still don’t know if four calls about fireworks thrown at people and buildings this last weekend are related but at least four people were injured.

First, police went to a call about fireworks being thrown at structures at around 12:50 p.m. Saturday on the 1600 block of University Avenue Southeast. While officers didn’t find any damage there, they returned to the same block, known as “Frat Row,” 20 minutes later on a report of someone throwing a firecracker at a home. Police identified three women – two 19-year-olds and an 18-year-old – with non-life-threatening shrapnel and burn injuries.

Then, just after 1 a.m. Sunday, police went to the 1200 block of Seventh Street Southeast where “a group of males” was reportedly throwing fireworks at people. Responders were also told a group was trying to get into a party, although police didn’t specify if the two groups were the same one. There, one man was found with a non-life-threatening injury “possibly resulting from an assault,” but the man refused help.

Finally, officers went to the 1200 block of Fourth Street Southeast after being told a group was banging on windows and throwing firecrackers at people. Police say the majority of a “sizeable crowd” dispersed upon officers’ arrival.

Wednesday morning, the university said it is partnering with Minneapolis police to have up to 10 extra officers from MPD and University Police in Dinkytown and the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood during the overnight hours of the next two weekends.

The university is calling the initiative “Operation Gopher Guardian” and says the extra officers will help provide “enhanced public safety protection to Minneapolis residents and our University of Minnesota community.”

Police are still investigating last weekend’s incidents. The police reports received by KSTP did not include any suspect descriptions, and no arrests have been announced.

The incidents were initially reported just before 2 a.m. Sunday through a University of Minnesota Public Safety alert that briefly described two potential assaults by fireworks close to the Twin Cities campus. Later Sunday morning, Minneapolis police told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they knew of three incidents, then followed up about a fourth incident but provided little information.