When does a drunken crowd turn into a rioting, uncontrollable mob? Police may have answered that question early Sunday morning, when a man was reportedly stabbed and every law enforcement agent on duty in Winona County — from St. Charles to the State Patrol — responded to a slew of 911 calls reporting fights near the popular nightclub MC’s Sports Bar.
Police estimate that the group gathered in city lot #12 numbered between 100 and 150, and YouTube accounts of a portion of the violence and police response show a troubling scene: fights between shirtless men erupting and growing; women punching, pushing, slapping one another; police using a Tazer against a young woman while other law enforcement agents locked heads with another man pinned down two squad cars away, action distorted by flashing red and blue lights.
In the end, police said one 36-year-old Winona man suffered a non-life-threatening stab wound, two people were arrested, and witness accounts were sketchy at best. One man had several of his teeth knocked out, but police lost him in the chaos.
Stephanie Ann Smith, 25, of Winona, was cited for disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process. Dustin Michael Larson, 25, of Winona, was arrested on charges of obstructing the legal process, obstructing the legal process with force, and fourth degree assault of a police officer.
According to Winona Police Deputy Chief Tom Williams, four city police were first on the scene. One victim of a fight was on the ground, and as officers attempted to assist the man, the crowd grew increasingly unmanageable, according to reports. Smith allegedly “got in [an] officer’s face” as police attempted to assist the injured man, and refused to comply with orders to give him room. When officers attempted to control the woman, she allegedly resisted, according to police reports, and she was taken to the ground and a Tazer was used on her. As officers attempted to restrain Smith, police said Larson began to charge at the group. Another officer tackled Larson, who reportedly would not show his hands and “flailed,” and police used a Tazer to get him under control. One police report alleged Larson pushed an officer.
“At this point, it was pure chaos,” one officer wrote in his report of the scene that unfolded quickly. Police first arrived at 12:36 a.m., and backup from the Goodview Police Department, Winona County Sheriff’s Department, Minnesota City Police Department, Lewiston Police Department, St. Charles Police Department, and the State Patrol soon arrived to help control the crowd. Winona Police reports did not indicate how many officers were on the scene.
Investigators are still trying to piece the evening together, attempting to contact witnesses who gave their names, as well as other victims. So far, none of the witness accounts has provided much detail to help. Most could not provide descriptions of individuals involved in assaults, said that they believed the fights began outside the bar in a fenced area, and that they did not know what started it all.