Mortimer's Bar shooting victim waved middle finger as his life slipped away, witness says

Mortimer's smoking cage was riddled with bullets following the Sunday-morning double shooting.
Mortimer's smoking cage was riddled with bullets following the Sunday-morning double shooting.

After last call on Sunday morning, Peter Kenyon was wrapping up his night out with his girlfriend in Gringo's, the bar adjacent to and inside the same building as Mortimer's, when he heard a series of bangs.

THE BACKSTORY: Shooting outside Mortimer's Bar leaves one dead, one critically injured

"To me it didn't sound like a big deal," Kenyon told City Pages. "It sounded like a cart rolling over raised tiles or something."

Kenyon was sitting at a table next to a window looking out on Gringo's parking-lot smoking cage. The bangs came from the direction of the cage, and when he looked out there to see what was going on, he saw a black man wearing flannel crash into the door separating the cage from the inside of the building.

"He landed on the ground and looked up, and he had those kind of eyes like when you shoot a deer," Kenyon said. "He was pointing his middle finger at everybody, and he looked at [my girlfriend]. He looked right directly at her, and was pointing his finger at her and looking at everybody."

"I was like, was this some sort of last intent toward the person that was after him? Or it might've been like him not wanting to have anybody help him, like, 'Fuck you, I can take care of this myself," Kenyon continued, adding that the man quickly weakened and eventually stopped moving altogether.

The victim sprawled in front of the door wasn't the only distressing sight Kenyon saw on the patio, however.

"I looked past him, and I saw this woman crying and holding her leg and limping out of sight from the door frame, saying, 'Oh my God!" Kenyon said. "And then I saw a guy right in front of her doing the same thing with his leg. So I'm thinking, because apparently only two people got shot, the [victim] must've run right into them and sprained their ankles or something."

Despite the chaos on the smoking patio, Kenyon said most of the folks inside the bar stayed calm.

"There wasn't really panic -- there was panic going on on the patio -- everyone else in Gringo's was kinda going, 'Uh, what's going on, is this a serious thing?'" Kenyon said.

But the realization that there had been a shooting in the smoking cage slowly spread, and patrons started moving from Gringo's to Mortimer's. Kenyon's girlfriend, however, was still at the window gazing out upon the lifeless man on the other side of the door.

(For more, click to page two.)

"I said to her, 'We gotta go, shots have been fired.' And she was like, 'What?' It wasn't really registering. It wasn't registering with a lot of the other people that were right in that area," Kenyon said, adding that he then helped bartenders shepherd people to Mortimer's.

Kenyon said that minutes later, Mortimer's was "extremely quiet" as the bar began to empty out and police arrived.

"There was this vibe of people trying to help each other out, like, 'Are you guys all right? Is everybody okay?'" Kenyon said. "I met a couple people there who are new friends, and it'll be more of a special bond because we met that night."

Kenyon said the shooting victim arrived at Gringo's shortly before bar close with two other black men who appeared to be his friends. He described the group as "animated" and "a somewhat aggressive bunch" but said his only vivid memories are of the victim.

"I can't begin to describe the other two because I just wasn't thinking too much about it," he said.

Yesterday, the Hennepin County medical examiner identified the man who was fatally wounded as 31-year-old Minneapolis resident Reginald Antwine Hayes Sr. Another victim was in the hospital in critical condition.

Asked whether he thought the shooter was one of the victims or another person who got away without being apprehended, Kenyon said he wasn't sure, but was inclined to believe the shooter fled the scene.

"You can get out of the patio hinge door to go to the parking lot, so maybe they split really fast," he said.

Kenyon's suspicion began to seem more likely after the MPD put out a public plea for tips that could lead to the arrest of the suspected shooter (if you have any information, you're asked to call 612-692-8477).

While he doesn't consider himself a regular at Mort's, Kenyon says he's "been going there more recently" since he's started dating his girlfriend, who lives a block away from the bar and is a regular. He characterized Mort's as "an amazing place with amazing bartenders," adding that he thinks it's unfortunate this weekend's shooting and another recent incident where a stray bullet ended up lodged in a Gringo's dartboard are giving the place a reputation for violence.

"Everyone's talking on Facebook about, 'Dude we gotta find another place, let's go to the VFW instead of Mort's,' and a lot of us are like, you know, it's not Mort's," he said. "There seems to be a new influx of aggressive people in that area, and unfortunately it's happening at Mort's."

Last night, Mort's and Gringo's were open for business as usual, with patrons out in the smoking cage enjoying cigarettes in the same spot where a man was shot dead less than 24 hours earlier.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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