Police investigate shooting

During Friday’s early morning hours, the stewed scurry of students heading home from Water Street bars was interrupted by several gunshots fired straight up in the air.

Shortly after bar time, between 2 and 2:30 a.m., a fistfight broke out on the 400 block of Water Street near the parking lot area, said Detective Sgt. Steve Page of the Eau Claire Police Department. The lot is located down the street from She-Nannigans, 415 Water St.

During the course of the fight, a large crowd gathered, Page said, and a yet-to-be identified person fired two to three rounds in the air.

“What happens a block down the street … that’s not our fault.”
Clint Wanta
She-Nannigans Owner

“We don’t really have a description right now of anyone,” Page said. “In fact, we are actively looking for anyone with any leads or any information to come forward and give our tipster line a call.

“Right now, we don’t really have any strong suspects.”

Senior Tom Schlesser was by the stoplights at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Water Street when the incident occurred. He heard a bunch of people fighting, he said, but he didn’t see much of the action.

Schlesser walked over to where the fight was unfolding, but when he heard gunshots, he chose to turn around.

“That’s when I decided, time to leave,” Schlesser said.

Someone called the police as soon as the fight broke out, Page said, but none of the four to five officers who responded to the scene actually saw the gun.

“By the time we got there, most of the people had already dispersed,” Page said. “(The person with the gun) had left prior to our arrival.”

Page said eyewitness descriptions of the gun’s shooter varied too much to disclose any concrete physical details. Additionally, several of the witnesses had too much to drink and weren’t very helpful, Page said.

Junior Sarah Knabel, 410 1/2 Water St., was home when the incident occurred. She heard the gun go off and looked out her window, but “didn’t really see anything,” she said.

Clint Wanta, the owner of She-Nannigans, said he was working when the incident happened. He too, didn’t see anything.

“It really had nothing to do with us,” Wanta said. “We were inside. It was just after bar close.”

Wanta said he looked out the door immediately after he heard gunfire and all he saw was a group of people standing in the street.

“We run a pretty tight shift here,” Wanta said. “What happens a block down the street … that’s not our fault.”

No one has ever brought a gun into the club, Wanta said.

“We don’t hardly even ever have a fight here,” Wanta said. “We don’t have many problems down here.”

Although no one was injured from the gunshots, two people were arrested for the fistfight, Page said.

“I believe the last time I recall any real gunshots being fired on the Water Street area was a couple years ago,” Page said. “A good time usually does not involve firearms.”

Anyone with details regarding the shooting should call the Eau Claire Police Department tipster line at 839-4982.

– Steven Pope contributed to this story.