SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said Monday morning that the violence, vandalism and looting Sunday night was “one of the darkest days in the history of Sioux Falls.”
Unfortunately, TenHaken said most of the damage, violence and looting that happened last night was caused by high school and middle school aged students.
“These were mostly kids,” TenHaken said. TenHaken said he recognized some suspects from local high schools.
“Our city has failed these kids, our parents have failed them,” TenHaken said.
TenHaken said he saw kids as young as 13 or 14. Why were those kids out Sunday night at the scene of violence, looting and vandalism, he said.
City officials were also contacted by a middle school teacher who recognized some students, TenHaken said.
Although the Mayor said most of the suspects appear to people young people, he, Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns, and state’s attorney Crystal Johnson said those who broke the law will be arrested and prosecuted.
As of Monday morning, police had already made several arrests, TenHaken said.
“We will hold you to account,” Burns said.
TenHaken said the city plans to release photos of suspects in order to help the police investigate.
Burns and TenHaken also asked the public, including business owners, to send any videos or photos of destruction and similar active to crimestopperssiouxempire.com.
Sioux Falls Police Public Information Office Sam Clemens played a video during the briefing that showed rocks being thrown at law officers at the Empire Mall.
Burns and TenHaken also stressed that the city had two events last night. One was a peaceful demonstration that started at 5 p.m. The other was an event that started around 9 p.m. at the Empire Mall that included the destruction and violence.
City police wanted to stand beside those who were in the peaceful protest that started in the downtown near the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Burns said.
What happened a few hours later, forced the police force, county deputies and National Guard members to protect property and the public at the Empire Mall while facing confrontation including five-to seven pound rocks being thrown at them, city officials said.
Burns said at least two officers received minor injuries. Some squad calls were also damaged by rocks, Clemens said.
Although there were reports or rumors about outside agitators being bused to Sioux Falls, Burns said “We don’t know if that materialized.”
Burns said police had people watching for any arriving buses or information.
Clemens stressed it will take time to examine video and other material and arrests will follow when suspects are identified.