Elijah Morgan-Hamilton, a 21-year-old New Hope resident, became the first adult charged in connection with the St. Patrick's Day melee in downtown Minneapolis.
Morgan-Hamilton is charged with felony rioting with a dangerous weapon for allegedly wielding a knife during the chaotic brawls that broke out along Nicollet Mall and Hennepin Avenue just before 8 p.m. last Tuesday.
According to the complaint, while the craziness took place in front of them, Minneapolis cops looked on while Morgan-Hamilton ran around with a knife in his hand.
"When Defendant saw the officers, he dropped the knife," the complaint says. "Defendant's companion was found to have illegal drugs in his possession. The knife was found to have an eight-inch blade."
After he was arrested, Morgan-Hamilton told cops the knife was given to him by a friend and he had it on him while in downtown Minneapolis for self-defense, the complaint says.
A search of Morgan-Hamilton's records reveals no prior criminal record. Jail records indicate he's still in custody as this is published with $20,000 bail.
Hennepin County authorities tell Fox 9 Morgan-Hamilton is the first adult charged in connection with the St. Paddy's incident, though more charges could be forthcoming. A number of juveniles were arrested as well.
Hennepin County statement
Late this afternoon, Hennepin County released the following statement:
The tally on the St. Patrick's Day brawl in downtown Minneapolis is one adult charged, one case deferred, one headed to the city attorney's office and two cases in the juvenile justice system, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday.
Elijah Morgan-Hamilton, 21, of New Hope was charged with second-degree riot in one of the incidents from the fracas that began the evening of March 17 when many young people rode the free buses downtown. A man was arrested with Morgan-Hamilton on suspicion of possessing cocaine, but that case has been deferred, pending lab tests on the substance in his possession. A 16-year-old girl was arrested on suspicion of riot and a 15-year-old boy on suspicion of assault, but their cases are in the juvenile system and, by law, cannot be discussed further.
"At the moment, these are all the cases we have at the county attorney's office," Freeman said. "We have dealt with them as firmly as the law allows and if police are able to bring us more cases after further investigation, we will certainly look at charging them as well. We want our young people to enjoy all of the great events that downtown has to offer, but they have to behave appropriately or they will pay the price."
About 7:40 p.m. that evening, police saw a large number of young people at Sixth Street and Nicollet Mall, according to the criminal complaint. Fights would break out and the crowd would run toward it, the complaint states. In this instance, many of them ran one direction, but Morgan-Hamilton and another person ran a different direction. Morgan-Hamilton had a knife in his hand as he ran. He dropped the knife and police arrested him.
The Hennepin County Attorney's Office handles only felony adult cases and all juvenile crime cases. The various city attorneys throughout the county handle misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors and one of the adult cases brought to the county will be referred to the Minneapolis City Attorney because the incident did not rise to the level of a felony offense.