Around 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, a ring of onlookers in north Minneapolis stood, phones in hand, as police officers milled about the ruins of a bus stop on Broadway and Lyndale.
The metal frame of the shelter was half-collapsed. Shards of glass spread in a pool on the sidewalk. Medical workers were tending to several people lying on the ground or in stretchers. Nearby, a beige van waited while an officer talked to the person in the driver’s seat.
One of the spectators taking video, Facebook user Darnell DeMarco, described what happened as a “North Side tragedy.” As he explained – and Metro Transit later confirmed – the man in the van had slammed into the bus shelter and injured the people who were “chilling” inside – “brothers and sisters,” according to DeMarco.
Spokesperson Howie Padilla says three people “in or near” the shelter were brought by emergency crews to North Memorial Medical Center with critical injuries. Two more were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center with injuries that weren't as severe, and one more was treated at the scene. The most we know about them at this point is that they're all adult men. To the best of Padilla’s knowledge, as he told reporters on the scene, nobody had died.
Little was said of the driver other than that the van, driving south, struck a mirror of a Metro Transit bus that parked on Lyndale and was letting passengers off at the stop.
“So the van hit that mirror, backed away, hit that mirror again, then made a righthand turn,” Padilla said. “The van then, for whatever reason… smashed into the shelter.” The driver – an 83-year-old man alone -- was taken into custody and cooperated with authorities. He was released around 3 p.m. "pending further investigation."
But some people who were on the scene say they saw the van “circle the block several times” beforehand, and speculated that the driver – who several onlookers said was white -- had done this on purpose.
“He rode around the block and just said 'fuck it,' and drove his van right into the bus stop where they be chilling and drinking,” DeMarco said. Murmurs of “Oh, hell, no” and “hate crime” rumbled in the background.
“Yeah, this shit’s crazy,” DeMarco said. “I don’t even know what to say.”
Padilla said he wouldn’t speculate on whether this was a deliberate act. This story will be updated as more information comes in. Here's DeMarco's video in its entirety.