A man who pulled a gun and threatened employees at a historic Minneapolis gay bar was sentenced to nearly five years in prison on Tuesday for the 2022 incident.
Conell Walter Harris was sentenced to 57 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release by Senior Judge David S. Doty at the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. Harris pleaded guilty to one count of a felon in possession of a firearm in April. He was accused of entering the 19 Bar near Loring Park on November 28, 2022, and threatening employees with a gun while using anti-LGBTQ+ slurs. 19 Bar first opened its doors in 1957 and is the oldest continuously operating gay bar in Minneapolis.
According to an earlier statement from the Department of Justice and the initial local charging document, Harris entered the 19 Bar “acting strangely” and later “became upset” after an employee asked to see his identification. When asked to leave, Harris pulled out a stolen .45 caliber Glock model 30 pistol and said “I ain't going nowhere.”
Harris then threatened the employee and a patron who attempted to “deescalate the situation,” saying “Watch the f*ck you’re saying” and “I’m going to f*ck you up.”
Harris also said “I’ll f*cking kill your d*ke *ss” to a bartender as he left. He returned a short time later and started playing pool.
“When officers arrived, several people pointed at a man, who was later identified as Conell Walter Harris, 29,” the DOJ said in Tuesday’s statement. “Harris resisted arrest and tried to reach into the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt. Officers recovered a stolen .45 caliber Glock model 30 pistol from Harris’ pocket.”
According to the Star Tribune, prosecutors had argued for a five-year sentence, noting Harris is a repeat felon who waved the gun about “in a threatening manner in a crowded bar” and whose actions “could have resulted in serious injury to Mr. Harris or bystanders.” Defense attorneys responded by referring to their client’s abusive upbringing and psychological challenges, claiming Harris was only acting in self-defense according to his perception of the events. His attorneys claimed Harris only pulled the gun after he was “physically confronted — touched by a bar employee who was up in his face and demanding that he leave” and that he did not point the gun at any one person.
Harris still faces charges in Hennepin County District Court for the incident.