Lincoln police haven't determined why a man fired nine shots at bar break downtown Sunday, but officers showed "tremendous restraint" with the noncompliant suspect, Chief Jeff Bliemeister said Monday.

Carlos Brito's encounter with Lincoln police and an off-duty Lancaster County sheriff's deputy could have ended with lethal force, Bliemeister said.

Officers found the 25-year-old Lincoln man in the northwest corner of the Wendy's parking lot at 14th and Q streets after hearing the gunfire at 2:30 a.m.

Police had to tell people in the area the noises they were hearing were gunfire, Officer Angela Sands said.

Officers told them to run southwest, away from the gunshots, Bliemeister said.

When police first encountered Brito, he was picking up small objects from the ground, the chief said.

He ignored several commands from the officers who had their guns out, Bliemeister said.

He wouldn't show his hands and moved them toward his waist, where he could have had a gun, Bliemeister said.

Then he ran off, continued ignoring commands to stop and kept his hands hidden before running into a responding Lincoln police officer, he said.

The officer took him to the ground and arrested him, the chief said.

Investigators found an empty holster on his waistband, an empty Glock magazine, two shell casings and one live 9mm round in Brito's pockets, Bliemeister said.

Officers also found a Glock 19 handgun on the ground in the parking lot that they believe he dumped before running from police.

He was taken to jail on suspicion of discharging a firearm in the city and refusing to comply with officers, both misdemeanors.

He has since been released on bail.

No one was with Brito, and it's unclear why he was shooting, the chief said.

No injuries or damage have been reported.

Thankfully, incidents downtown like this one are rare, the chief said.

"This was an extremely volatile, dangerous act that was handled with tremendous restraint and professionalism," the chief said.

Brito was intoxicated, but police have encountered many people who had been drinking who don't drunkenly fire, the chief said.

"There's lots of people that are under in the influence of alcohol in downtown Lincoln and everywhere across the country, and you don't see them discharging a volley of rounds in a heavily populated environment," Bliemeister said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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Riley Johnson reports on breaking news and public safety issues in Lincoln and southeast Nebraska.

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