Seven adults were temporarily detained Tuesday after police officers surrounded a basement near downtown Rapid City with snipers and military-style vehicles during an investigation into a shooting above the apartment. It turned out the group wasn't involved in the shooting so five people were released while two were arrested on unrelated issues.
The five people who were released said Wednesday the response was heavy-handed, they didn't know they were suspects, and they wish officers had tried to contact them before calling the Special Response Team.
But the spokesman for the Police Department said that evidence pointed to the people inside the basement being involved, and the department wanted the SRT in place before making contact.
"When talking about the police response to any situation, it's important to note the information we had at the time and not judge it based on the information we know now," Brendyn Medina said in an email.
Gunfire was reported at 9:15 a.m Tuesday coming from the east side of 5th Street between Quincy and Columbus streets, Medina previously said.
When police officers responded, he said, they found a bullet hole at 422 Columbus St. above the basement apartment, and when officers confronted a group of teenagers, they ran towards the white building. Neighbors and witnesses also told officers that the basement apartment had multiple guns, that the people inside might have been involved in the incident, and that the group may have known the teenagers.
Aaron McGuire, a 27-year-old who leases the basement apartment, said he did have three guns, but they were stolen from the apartment about a month ago. He and his roommate Lily Deblock, 18, said they reported the theft to police and gave them their phone numbers.
"With all of these factors in mind, the decision was made to call out the SRT since they have the specialized equipment and training to safely resolve situations in which we have individuals inside a building that we suspect are armed," Medina said.
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"We want to have the SRT in place before we make contact with the people inside. That way we have all the tools or resources at our fingertips depending on how the communication goes" he said, when asked why police didn't try contacting the group before calling the SRT.
"In a situation where we have active gunfire, don’t know how many total people are involved, and have the sustained potential for more firearms in the equation, we played it safe and resolved the situation in a calculated, safe, and entirely appropriate manner given the circumstances," Medina added.
Medina said officers are still trying to figure out why one of the teens fired the weapon. But he said they've confirmed that only one shot was fired and are confident they've identified the suspect who fired the rifle found inside a car parked outside the white building.
A bullet hole through the glass of one of the car's windows lines up with the hole in the bedroom, Medina previously said. Broken glass on the ground and a gunshot hole above the basement apartment were still visible on Wednesday afternoon.
Three adults — two from the basement apartment and one who was found in the area — were arrested Tuesday for unrelated crimes or warrants, Medina said. A 19-year-old man inside the apartment was arrested for warrants related to theft, drugs, alcohol and not appearing in court, while a 27-year-old man was arrested for several drug charges after he was found with meth, a snort tube and marijuana pipe.
Medina said he hasn't been able to determine whether detectives agree with the narrative of 18-year-old Josh England, who spent the night at the basement apartment. England told the Journal that he was outside smoking when officers were searching for the teenagers soon after the shooting.
He said five officers eventually approached him and asked if he had heard a gun being fired. He said no and went inside the house, and that it didn't seem like the officers were trying to ask him more questions. But he said the officers then surrounded the apartment.