Fire breaks out amid looting at Autozone, Lake Street Target to close

Rioting has led to looting of numerous businesses near the police station.
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UPDATE WEDNESDAY MORNING

Numerous businesses were damaged or destroyed as protests escalated into violent rioting Wednesday night into Thursday morning in south Minneapolis. 

AutoZone, located across the street from Minneapolis police's 3rd precinct, was destroyed by fire, as was a nearby Wendy's, a cellphone store, and an affordable housing building that was under construction, in addition to fire alarms buzzing at Target, Cub Foods and many other locations. 

This is a developing story. 

Original story

The AutoZone store across the street from the 3rd Minneapolis Police Precinct is engulfed in flames as a result of protests that have turned violent Wednesday night. 

Protesting the police-involved death of 46-year-old George Floyd has led to consecutive nights of demonstrations outside the south Minneapolis precinct, and Wednesday's situation has escalated into looting of Target and Auto Zone, both located at the intersection of Lake Street and Minnehaha Ave. 

It comes after heated scenes outside the 3rd Precinct, with police firing tear gas, flash bags and less-lethal bullets into crowds. Gov. Tim Walz is urging people to stay away from the area.

Ricardo Lopez of the Minnesota Reformer is at the scene of the rioting and has posted multiple videos of the fire and smoke coming AutoZone. 

Police are now attempting to block the area off, with tear gas being deployed. St. Paul Police Department has said it's sending 40 officers to Minneapolis to assist.

Mayor Jacob Frey meanwhile made a late-night call in to KARE 11, saying he respects both the police and the protesters, and all he is "calling for now is peace."

Target was already significantly damaged after looters smashed windows and stoles items in bulk, as were Minnehaha Lake Wine & Spirits and Cub Foods in the area. Damage was severe to the point that the Target will remain closed for an undetermined amount of time. 

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“We are heartbroken by the death of George Floyd and the pain it is causing our community,” he said.

“We decided to close our Lake Street earlier today and worked to ensure all of our team members were accounted for and safe. Our focus will remain on our team members’ safety and helping our community heal," a Target spokesperson told the Star Tribune

This is a developing story. 

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