Fargo band in 'numb shock' after witnessing fatal shooting at Minot bar
“Everyone's really been incredibly supportive of a tragedy that doesn’t directly affect us, but it's definitely something we’ll live with for the rest of our lives,” frontman Tim Melin said.
FARGO — After witnessing a shooting in Minot that resulted in a man's death, the frontman of a Fargo-based band that was performing that night has opened up about how the shocking event has impacted them.
“It was terrifying,” 42-year-old Tim Melin said. His band, Tripwire, had finished their set at The Original Bar and Night Club, 720 N. Broadway in Minot, and started to put away their gear when two shots rang out just before 2 a.m. on Sunday, May 14.
“I thought it could have been a balloon popping,” Melin said, but when people started screaming, he knew something was wrong.
Diving for cover, band members stayed sheltered for a few moments as they gestured for others to take cover near them.
Melin saw the gun fall to the ground after the second shot, knocked out of the gunman's hands as bystanders stepped in to restrain the shooter. Others stepped up to administer lifesaving efforts on the victim, 32-year-old Greyson Sletto, of Willow City.
Despite the efforts of bystanders and emergency personnel, Sletto died after the shooting, according to the Minot Police Department.
The suspected shooter, 40-year-old Travis McDermott, of Minot, was arrested that night . He faces charges of reckless endangerment and manslaughter, a Class B felony, according to police.
Tripwire, a cover band whose performances are typically lighthearted, has been shaken to the core, Melin said.
He and his bandmates, Lars Hegland, 35; Mark Arneson, 41; and Brandon Cummings, 25, have been performing together for seven years and have never witnessed such a violent event, Melin said.
He described the drive home after giving their statement to police as remarkably silent, as they were all mentally and emotionally exhausted and in a state of “numb shock.”
Events like this make people consider their own mortality, Melin said. When he heard the victim may have two young kids, he "broke down," he said, thinking about his own kids waiting for him at home.
The band members called their families to let them know that they were OK.
Since then, they have done a lot of talking, staying in constant communication to try to process the shooting, “just trying to keep our heads above water,” Melin said.
“It's a constant uneasy feeling,” he said. “You feel terrible for the victim and their family. You feel relief for your own safety. … You feel anger … that this person … went out foolishly with a gun in their waistband at a bar that serves alcohol. There is plenty of anger at that person there.
“Right now, we take a little bit of solace in that we have one another in the band. We went through this together, and we’re already a really close group of guys,” Melin said. “We all got to go home and talk to our families and our loved ones, but that’s not something everyone can say.”
The group made an emotional Facebook post to let their fans know they are OK and give them the full story, Melin said.
Fans and fellow bands have been sending “countless” messages and texts filled with shock and concern since, he said.
“Everyone's really been incredibly supportive of a tragedy that doesn’t directly affect us, but it's definitely something we’ll live with for the rest of our lives,” Melin said. “It's a thing you never thought you would deal with.”
While the shooting was shocking, he said, he wasn’t as shocked as he thought he would be, noting shootings seem to have become commonplace.
The day after he got home, he had to explain to his children, an 11-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy, what happened.
He suspects they will feel a new level of concern when he leaves home next week for his shows, as will he.
Tripwire will be at Zorbaz in Detroit Lakes on Friday. The events of last week might not affect their set, Melin said, but it has changed how he thinks about his own mortality.
A few weeks ago, two concertgoers looked like they were preparing to fight right in front of the stage during Tripwire’s performance, Melin said, and he jumped down and got between them to diffuse the situation.
If that happens this Friday, he won’t get in the middle again.
“The real victim was the person that died and their family and friends,” Melin said. “But being part of this, you have a bit of that victim mentality where you kind of change what you do so you don’t end up in the same situation that the victim was in.”
The Original Bar and Nightclub was closed on Monday and canceled all their events for the week. They expressed their remorse to the victim, his friends and family, and “everyone else who was affected by this terrible tragedy” on Facebook.
“I spoke with the owner of the Original (Bar and Nightclub), who I've known for two decades, and he’s struggling with this as much or more than we are,” Melin said.
The bar has already implemented new security measures, he said on Facebook.
“While the actions of one person changed so many lives forever, please do not stop living yours,” the band wrote on Facebook. “Do not let this incident sour you on going out and watching live music. Don’t let it keep you from this club, which has truly some of the best people in the industry working hard to make your nights enjoyable. Be thankful for first responders in all fields, as they go through events like this far more frequently than we ever will.
"Be kind to people you meet, as they may be the ones who risk their own safety to help others. And hug your loved ones tight when you can.”