A same-sex couple visiting Minneapolis from out of town were greeted Thursday with more than they could have expected when a bar patron shot both men in the legs with a BB gun.
Last Thursday night, 43-year-old Wayne Steven Odegard arrived at The Saloon, a popular Minneapolis gay bar. Soon after, he began harassing customers and making homophobic comments aimed at a nearby gay couple holding hands, according to Minneapolis news station KMSP-TV.
The situation escalated, and Odegard produced a CO2-powered BB gun, aiming it at customers. Odegard fired the BB gun at another couple, striking the men in their legs, before attempting to run from the scene. Saloon security guard Tyler Erickson took chase, grabbing Odegard only a few yards away from the door, where he called police.
"He told me multiple times that I'm going to go to hell and he's going to bring me with him," Erickson told KMSP. "He recited a biblical passage -- I think it's a Deuteronomy passage," adding that the victims were from Broolyn and Philadelphia. "They both joked that they came to progressive Minneapolis and got shot for being gay."
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice's Community Relations Service met with Minnesota LGBT advocacy organizations to discuss what needed to be done in the wake of the stabbing death of Chrissie Bates, a 45-year-old transgender woman who was stabbed to death in her Minneapolis apartment. Later that year, trans woman CeCe McDonald was attacked outside of a Minneapolis tavern. In conjunction with local law enforcement, the DOJ worked to develop city-wide LGBT outreach programs. While such efforts were aimed at improving the relationship between police and LGBT individuals, anti-LGBT violence remains a sad reality nationwide.
KMSP reports that if found guilty, Odegard could face second-degree assault and gun possession charges, punishable by up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $14,000.