Dinkytown double homicide unnerves U of M parents, students

Editors note: Authorities have confirmed the identities of the two victims to be 24-year-old Michael Jamartre Sanders and 24-year-old Lamarr Bryson Haskell. 

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A fight inside a Dinkytown business turned into a double homicide early Sunday morning, according to the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).

Police said two men were killed and one was injured in the Dinkytown shooting. Around 2:15 a.m., officers responded to a smoke shop near 4th Street and 14th Avenue Southeast. Police said they found two men in their 20s with fatal gunshot wounds, and despite life-saving efforts, the men died at the scene. A third man, who is an employee of the business, had non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to the hospital.

"Preliminary information indicates that there was an altercation between two groups of customers inside the store that escalated to gunfire," MPD Sgt. Garrett Parten told FOX 9.

Minneapolis police said no University of Minnesota students were injured in the incident, but the shooting is still drawing questions and concerns from parents and students. The neighborhood woke up to the news that a double homicide had happened overnight.

"It's campus. Like, you shouldn't have to worry about this stuff," said Nicholas Pavlov, who frequents the Dinkytown area. "From what I heard it was a fight, somebody pulled a gun out, which is crazy because I come here all the time from the store, other stores around here."

The owner of Royal Cigar & Tobacco told FOX 9 the incident was "terrifying" for the three employees who were inside at the time.

Investigators are still working to determine who was shooting and how many shots were fired. They confirmed the injured employee did not fire shots during the incident. Parents at the university, meanwhile, are calling for an increased police presence in the area.

"Students and business owners, any stakeholder in Dinkytown – they have a right to be kept safe," said Marcia Cotter from the Campus Safety Coalition.

The coalition, a non-profit made up of parents and other stakeholders, has been working with MPD and UMPD to decrease crime in the area.

"This is sort of the worst thing that we thought was going to happen. It was just a matter of time before it would and now it has," Cotter said.

MPD said several types of crimes, including assaults, burglaries and shots fired calls are all down from last year in the Marcy Holmes neighborhood, which includes Dinkytown, but officers are taking this investigation seriously amid their limited resources.

Students told FOX 9 they're glad to hear none of their university classmates were injured, but they wish the alerts sent out from campus had offered more details.

"We received a safety notification, which is like the campus' security notifications, and it just said that there was a shooting that occurred like in this area and that the police are looking into it," said student Anna Luedtke.

"I felt like there wasn't enough information to make me feel safe and secure on campus. It was very vague, and it definitely made me want more information from the people that are trying to keep us safe on campus," said student Katie Kapphahn.

Parents said they'll ask more questions in the coming days, including about the smoke shop itself. 

The owner told FOX 9 his employees are all OK now, and he said nothing like this has ever happened inside his shop before. He also said he would like to see a visible police presence near his business.

No arrests have been made and the investigation is open and active. 

Police ask anyone with information to call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit a tip online here.