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Mayor Jacob Frey has denounced the violent scenes that marred Minneapolis' Fourth of July celebrations, and said parents and acquaintances of those responsible should be "setting them straight."

Videos of scenes in downtown Minneapolis showing individuals firing Roman candle fireworks at people and buildings have gone viral on social media, being viewed millions of times.

Around the same time, an informal gathering that saw people setting off fireworks at Boom Island Park ended in gunfire that saw eight people shot, several of whom have been left in a critical condition.

Addressing the violence at a Tuesday press conference alongside interim MPD chief Amelia Huffman, Frey said that law enforcement was playing "whack-a-mole" as it dealt with 1,300 calls in the space of just a few hours, with just 80 city officers on duty at the time.

"The recklessness and callous disregard for residents in our city put a damper and a stain on a weekend that should otherwise be celebrated," Frey said. 

"This is conduct that should not be acceptable in any city," he added. "The kind of violence, the reckless and, in some cases, idiotic behavior we saw shouldn’t be tolerated and let me be clear, it won’t be tolerated."

He continued to say that while his administration is working towards a comprehensive, collaborative approach to public safety, which has seen city policing and public safety budgets increased in recent years despite the "defund" movement.

But he also called on community members to take more responsibility in preventing the actions of transgressors, saying: "If you’re the parents of children that were out last night, you need to know where they are. If you have friends that were involved in some of this horrible conduct, you need to be setting them straight."

Investigations are underway by Minneapolis Parks Police into the shooting at Boom Island and unrest at the Stone Arch Bridge, while MPD is investigating shooting/fireworks incidents at Gold Medal Park and the Mill District.

Timeline of incidents

Deputy Chief of Patrol Erik Fors gave a timeline of major incidents during the evening, which started with a large gathering at the Stone Arch Bridge at 10 p.m., and then claims 15 minutes later officers received reports that fireworks were allegedly being fired at squads near Mill Ruins Park.

At 10:20 p.m. seven squads were set to manage the scene of a shooting that left two injured, and just under an hour later, MPD was called back to Stone Arch Bridge by Park Police, which needed help with a "large, uncooperative group."

At 11:30 p.m. the shootings erupted at Boom Island Park, sparking 11 MPD and nine Park PD squads to respond to what was a "very serious life safety event."

Crowds continued to gather at Main Street Southeast and Second Street Southeast, Mill Ruins Park and Gold Medal Park, and then around 1 a.m. "the situation in downtown near 2nd and Portland became more serious," with first responders allegedly shot at with "commercial-grade fireworks."

Huffman said there were three hotspots where conduct "involved gunfire and shooting fireworks towards property, homes, people and officers."

"As you can imagine, this was an extremely challenging situation with a very large and hostile crowd," she added.

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