When police arrived on the scene of a Christmas party gone wrong at a Moorhead bowling alley, there was total chaos.
Multiple fights had broken out in the parking lot while panicked bystanders who fled to their cars were trying to drive out of the melee.
Lt. Tory Jacobson says that despite the fact that officers drew their weapons and ordered the suspects, many of whom were African immigrants, to the ground, the fighting continued.[jump]
A large group from Fargo had rented out the second floor of Sunset Lanes in Moorhead for a Christmas party on Saturday night, according to manager Darin Sundstrom.
"The whole night during the party was good until the very end," he says.
Then, around midnight, the party and another group began to argue. Early reports indicated that the fight broke out between a group of Sudanese immigrants and a group of Liberian immigrants. One Moorhead detective said they'd had problems with the two groups before, and that they often "try to instigate fights" at one another's events.
The clashes began in the doorway and spilled out into the parking lot. Police estimate when they arrived between 60 and 100 people were clustered in small circles around brawlers, while bystanders fled.
"People were, of course, calling out threats, that there were guns, people talking about injured people, people swinging belts with big belt buckles," says Jacobson.
Moorhad police called in the Clay County Sheriff's Department, Fargo police and the state troopers in order to gain control of the scene. They saw one man, 20-year-old Nelson Adam, hit in the head with a shovel, but he refused medical help. Another 20-year-old Mohamoud Sharif was stabbed in the buttocks, and a third man, 18-year-old Emmunel Noah, was struck with a fake gun.
A Taser, a knife and the fake firearm were left strewn in the parking lot after the fights were broken up. No one was arrested.
Police are interviewing the victims as well as a few persons of interest to get a grasp on what happened. So far, the investigation has lead to several conflicting stories and plenty of finger pointing. Jacobson says he isn't even comfortable calling this a Sudanese versus Liberian fight, though he confirms many of the people present were from either country. He does not anticipate finding out the cause of the fight soon.
"This is going to take a while," he says. "It's a very serious matter for us. This is not a regular occurrence at all."
Sudanese and Liberian immigrants from the Fargo area have clashed before, including a 2008 incident over a girl at the Fargodome.