Student loses spleen, says rubber bullet was cause

Rocky Thompson

A University student was released Wednesday evening from the hospital after an emergency operation to remove his spleen, which was bleeding internally, after he was allegedly shot with a rubber bullet during the riot Saturday.

University student Jeff Arndt watched the hockey game Saturday evening at his fraternity before heading to Dinkytown to see what was going on, he said.

Arndt ran into a crowd at Fourth Avenue Southeast and 14th Street Southeast and watched the chaos until he and a friend headed back to his fraternity, he said.

Arndt saw the bonfires and the cars being set on fire and said he got close to the front of the action before deciding to head home.

After walking between some houses on University Avenue Southeast, he turned away from the riot and walked in the direction of his fraternity house, Arndt said.

Police in riot gear were across the street, pushing the crowd back and trying to disperse it.

“I remember I turned around and saw him shoot me,” Arndt said.

A rubber bullet struck him in the back and he fell to the ground, Arndt said.

Minneapolis police communications specialist Ron Reier said he is not sure if police fired rubber bullets during the riot.

The Emergency Response Unit has many types of equipment available, including rubber bullets, and some ERU officers were at the riot, Reier said, though he couldn’t say how many.

He has never fired a rubber bullet, nor does he know what they look like or how they are used, Reier said.

They are not regularly issued to officers, he said.

Arndt said he is unsure whether he was targeted by police or just got hit by a stray bullet.

“My only guess is that I wasn’t moving fast enough,” he said.

Arndt walked the last two blocks to his fraternity and sat on a chair for a few moments before lying on the floor, he said.

His friends decided he needed medical care, and two people drove him to Fairview-University Medical Center, Arndt said.

Hospital staff X-rayed him and he received a CAT scan before they realized his spleen had ruptured and was severely bleeding internally, Arndt said.

An ambulance rushed him to Hennepin County Medical Center and into emergency surgery early Sunday morning, he said.

Doctors removed Arndt’s spleen – an organ which is part of the immune system.

Michele Lemoine, nursing supervisor at HCMC, said internal bleeding caused by a ruptured spleen can result in death.

She said a patient can live without a spleen, which cleans the blood, but he or she will be more susceptible to infection. The spleen makes antibodies that weaken or kill bacteria, viruses and other organisms.

It will also be necessary that he receive flu shots annually and other shots every couple of years, said Jason Arndt, Jeff Arndt’s brother.

Jason said the first time he saw his brother was Sunday afternoon in a hospital bed in HCMC.

He said his brother had two tubes coming out of his chest, one to drain liquid and another to release built-up pressure.

Jeff said the chest tubes were not removed until Wednesday morning and he plans on spending the next few days at home before returning to school next week.

He said he has not been able to contact any of his professors about his absence and knows he is a step behind in school.

He said he has not contacted any lawyers but has not ruled out the possibility of a lawsuit.

“I never broke anything or caused fights,” he said, “I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Rocky Thompson covers police and crime. He welcomes comments at [email protected]