Update: No one talking after shooting

Published 10:34 am Monday, November 12, 2012

Five people were shot Saturday night at a teen dance at the Lansing Corners Event Center. Two victims are from Austin. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Authorities have little to go on after 5 shot

Though another day has passed since a shooting at Lansing Corners Event Center injured five people, those who attended the large dance are remaining tight-lipped.

“It’s just a matter of finding additional information, and nobody is being cooperative,” said Mark May, Mower County Sheriff’s chief deputy.

The shooting happened at about midnight Saturday as the event was finishing, and most of the roughly 100 party-goers were already outside or had left, according to Dave Olson, co-owner of Lansing Corners. The event center is at the intersection of Highway 218 and County Road 2 north of Austin.

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“There weren’t very many people left in there,” he said.

Olson was inside cleaning and shutting off lights when he heard what sounded like firecrackers, he said. Olson had actually heard gunshots, which critically injured both a 21-year-old Sioux Falls, S.D., man who was struck in the chest and 19-year-old Rochester man who was struck in the chest and thigh. Three others were also injured, including a 23- and 17-year-old from Austin and a 17-year-old from Sioux Falls. While the event was promoted as an 18 and older, hip-hop dance with no alcohol, many minors indicated via Facebook they were attending the event.

One area mom who asked that her name not be used said her 16-year-old went to the dance but left before the shooting. Though he said it was a teen dance, the teen told his mom later he saw people drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, so he left at about 11 p.m. Saturday.

The mom said she drove by Lansing Corners at one point before the shooting and only saw teens and young adults in a line outside, so she didn’t think anything was amiss.

Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi said liquor was strewn about the parking lot.

While the Sheriff’s Department confirmed two guns were involved, Amazi and May would not say if any weapons were recovered from the event. May said deputies arrived right after the shooting. Still, nobody is in custody.

Amazi also indicated in a press release that many people said, “I didn’t see anything.” Though witnesses seem to be uncooperative, Olson knows people have information, and he has given names of people at the event to authorities.

“I don’t get it,” Olson said. “I don’t get how this happened. … Somebody had to see something.”

According to the sheriff’s department, all the victims were transported to Rochester for treatment. Two were in critical condition as of Sunday afternoon; however, officials at St. Marys Hospital would not provide updates on their conditions.

Dustin Plank and his family heard the commotion from their home near Lansing Corners. Plank said he thought someone was banging at the door, but his wife said it sounded like gunfire. Once Plank went outside, he heard people yelling and saw people leaving the event center.

“[I saw] cars peeling out like crazy,” he said.

The family stayed indoors after that, only answering when police asked them questions, according to Plank.

Lansing Corners, formerly a diner, sat vacant from 2008 until March of this year, when Olson turned it into an event center to host wedding receptions, graduation parties, business functions and other special events. Lansing Corners originally opened in 1938 as a gas station and diner.

This is the second shooting in three days near Lansing. On Thursday, a 30-year-old woman was reportedly shot in the face as she drove away from a home four miles northeast of Lansing. Authorities believe the shootings are unrelated.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is assisting the investigation, but is deferring all questions to the Mower County Sheriff’s office.

Amazi urges anyone with information about the shooting to call the Sheriff’s office at 507-437-9400 or 800-437-9409.

—Adam Harringa and Trey Mewes contributed to this report.