Three people were arrested and a gun was found Tuesday after someone fired into a bedroom near downtown Rapid City and seven people hid for three hours as they were surrounded by snipers and military-style vehicles.
Photos sent to the Journal show a bullet hole going through a wall and a wooden headboard of a bed. Police spokesman Brendyn Medina confirmed that a shot was fired from a car into a first-floor bedroom at a white apartment building at 422 Columbus Street. Medina said a rifle was found inside the vehicle and a bullet hole through the glass of one of the car's windows lines up with the hole in the building.
Police have interviewed at least 15 people but are still still trying to figure out who fired the rifle and why they did it, Medina said. No civilians or police officers were injured, and officers did not fire their weapons.
The gunfire was reported at 9:15 a.m coming from the east side of 5th Street between Quincy and Columbus streets, Medina said. The area has homes, businesses and is a few blocks away from Rapid City High School, which continued the school day but locked its doors.
Five teenagers, one girl and four boys, were seen detained by 10 a.m. Medina said they were found outside a blue house at 812 5th Street. Seven more people were seen detained by 12:23 p.m after they came out of the white building. The second group had one female and six males — one of whom was carrying a small black dog — and appeared to be a mix of adults and teenagers.
The second group had run from the blue house into the white building but were not hiding in the same apartment that the bullet was fired into, Medina said.
Three of the 12 detained people ended up being charged and arrested, Medina said. One teen from the first group was arrested in relation to a stolen vehicle found at the scene while two adults from the second group were arrested for warrants unrelated to the incident.
Medina said the rifle was likely fired by one of the teens in the first group. It's unclear if the suspect was trying to hit the white building, someone inside it and/or someone from the second group. He said at least one person from the first group knew someone from the second group.
The car with the gun — which is not the stolen vehicle — still needs to be processed, and police are still searching the area for contraband, Medina said. "This active ongoing criminal investigation is centered on juveniles" and more people could be charged, he said.
Leslie Morris, owner of Dakota Travel, said she heard a single gunshot Tuesday morning but thought it could also be a sound from a car. She locked the doors to her business as dozens of police officers and other law enforcement officials arrived, surrounded the white building, and shut down 5th Street between Quincy and Columbus.
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A male teen was handcuffed at 9:30 a.m. and three more boys and one girl were detained at 10 a.m. Some were yelling and crying.
"It is very concerning that here we are, what should be a Tuesday morning of a school day, and we've got a youth-involved shooting right in our core area of Rapid City," Police Chief Karl Jegeris said outside the scene. "The juveniles we're interacting with are out of control, they're uncooperative, some of them are hysterical."
Jegeris said officers were trying to calm the teens down and figure out who shot the gun, which had not been located at the time. He said his department has been working to stop youth and gun violence, but this incident shows there's still more work to be done.
Meanwhile, officers continued to surround the white building as the Rapid City/Pennington County Special Response Team (SRT) and Highway Patrol's Alpha Team began to arrive. The teams specialize in barricaded and hostage situations and communicating and negotiating with suspects, Medina said.
A white SRT truck and two large, green military-style vehicles arrived as snipers wearing camouflage positioned themselves on homes, businesses and vehicles around the white building.
At 12:16 p.m., three hours after the 911 calls came in, people began walking outside of the white building with their hands in the air. One by one they stepped outside of the home and were handcuffed as they faced the vehicles and a row of SRT officers outfitted with helmets and rifles.
The SRT then searched the building at 12:23 p.m. and exited a few minutes later.
"Through excellent teamwork and a very skilled negotiations team, we were able to finally get in contact with an individual inside who agreed that they were going to come out and surrender" after they communicated through text messages, Medina said outside the scene.
The group could have had a gun and wasn't cooperating when officers tried to speak with them, Medina said when asked why the SRT was brought in.
"That ups the risk to your traditional patrol officer," he said. "SRT officers have that training and the equipment to resolve a situation with uncooperative subjects in a building that may be possibly armed."