On February 24 shortly before 9 p.m. Bloomington police officers were dispatched to an apartment complex in the 1100 block of East 80th Street on reports of a fight. Arriving at the scene, cops discovered a baby shower taking place in the party room of the building. The people at the gathering, who were predominantly Hispanic, reported that an African American male, subsequently identified as Jirell Tremon Thomas, had entered the room and started shouting racial insults at the group. Thomas allegedly stated that he had a gun and grabbed his waistband.
"What kind of set it off was some kids that were running around in the hallway making some noise," explains Sgt. Mark Stehlik, of the Bloomington Police Department. "I think that was what initially agitated Mr. Thomas."
According to a criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court, Thomas then went to his apartment, but returned moments later carrying a pan of hot cooking oil. He allegedly threw the oil at the group, splashing three people. One of the victims was subsequently determined to have first-degree burns on his left arm and face.
Thomas then went to his apartment again, but returned carrying a glass ornament roughly the size of a softball. He allegedly threw the object at the group, hitting one woman and causing a cut to her head.
Finally Thomas visited his apartment for a third time during the altercation. This time he returned to the party room carrying a pair of steak knives and threatened to kill the group of people. "All I need is one of you," he purportedly told them.
At this point the cops arrived and detained Thomas. The 19-year-old Bloomington resident has been charged with third-degree assault and making terroristic threats. "The cooking oil was certainly the most unusual element of this," notes Stehlik. "That's not typically a weapon used in an assault."