EXCLUSIVE: SWAT Rescues Officers Left Behind at 3rd Precinct HQ Amidst Protest-Turned-Riot

May 30, 2020Joshua Skovlund

3rd Precinct officers prior to the loss of their building. Photo by Joshua Skovlund/Coffee or Die.

Mayor Jacob Frey ordered the abandonment of the 3rd Minneapolis Police Precinct after the second night of destruction turned into a third day of consecutive protests and rioting on Thursday. The protests in response to the death of George Floyd while in police custody began peacefully but quickly devolved into destruction and looting. 

The 3rd Precinct building was set on fire shortly after officers escaped the oncoming attacks and subsequent breach of the building on Thursday night. Officers exited the building quickly to several busses waiting to move them out of the area. Once at the busses, they performed a head count and found there were officers missing. 

3rd Precinct officer lines up a less lethal shot at rioters. Photo by Joshua Skovlund/Coffee or Die.

The report was sent over radio and Minneapolis SWAT teams were sent in to the 3rd Precinct headquarters building to rescue the stranded officers. A Minneapolis SWAT team member speaking on background said the radio traffic had a “real ‘Black Hawk Down’-type of vibe.” 

After reaching them, the SWAT officers led the group of stranded officers back through the crowd of protesters and to safety.

With a reported addition of 70,000 protesters arriving in the Twin Cities today — including ANTIFA and white supremacist groups — it is unclear when the protesting and rioting will end. Businesses and private residences have continued to be looted and set on fire. Multiple buildings continue to burn throughout the night, leaving the Minneapolis Fire Department to decide which buildings are salvageable.

The Minneapolis Police Department Public Information Officers had not returned requests for comments at the time of publication.

Though the protests started in Minneapolis, they have spread across the nation. Police officers, firefighters, and EMS have been inundated with escalating violence for the last several days. Many first responders in the states where riots are occurring are reaching mandatory overtime. 

Joshua Skovlund
Joshua Skovlund

Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children.

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