The following is a synopsis of Sunday night’s Bridge Building incident:
Prior to the start of the fireworks, NFD Fire Marshal personnel spotted a person on the roof of the Bridge Building. An MNPD helicopter flew to the area and confirmed that there was an individual on the roof. The fire marshal advised that the show would not begin until the person was off the roof and the building cleared of anyone else. SWAT officers were dispatched to the building and found all the doors locked. They knocked and attempted to look into the building on every level that they could access from the stairwell on the building’s exterior. No one came to any of the doors and they could not see anyone by looking through the windows at that point; however, NFD personnel relayed that Bridge Building security cameras showed people inside. An employee of the Bridge Building was requested to come to the scene and provide access to the interior. As they waited for the employee, officers could see persons through a window on the fourth floor. They were directed to open the door. Instead, they ran further into the building.
Once the employee arrived and the officers gained access into the building, four persons, a Bridge Building employee and three of her friends, were located inside. They were escorted out. Eight SWAT officers then divided into two teams to clear the building to ensure that no one else was inside. They started with the fifth and sixth floors to include the rooftop. While the officers were still in the building and the helicopter remained close by, a security guard apparently relayed to an NFD employee that he was the last one in the building. Without going through command and without checking with MNPD to ensure officers were out of the building, the message was relayed to start the fireworks show. Command was not advised the show had commenced.
Due to the close proximity of the professional firework mortal shells and the fallout from detonated fireworks, the eight SWAT members sheltered inside the Bridge Building until the conclusion of the fireworks show.
Upon being surprised by the show starting, the helicopter crew took immediate action to quickly move away.
No charges were placed against the four persons cleared from the building last night, although their actions continue to be under review as part of an open investigation.
The NFD is leading the review of the miscommunication that caused this situation.
Photos of a SWAT UTV parked in the fallout zone outside the Bridge Building during the fireworks show are attached.