A violent start to the weekend left two people dead and four others injured in three separate shootings in north Minneapolis early Saturday.

The deaths bring the total to 16 homicides in Minneapolis this year.

"It's very alarming," said V.J. Smith, the president of MAD DADS. "We've got to get these guns off the streets."

None of the victims had been identified Saturday night. Police spokesman Scott Seroka said the shootings were not random and didn't appear to be connected or gang-related.

The shooting spree began just after midnight as three men were shot, one fatally, at a house in the 3400 block of Dupont Avenue N., according to police. Officers responded to a "shots fired" call and found the man, who died inside the home.

Police said the other two victims were taken to North Memorial Medical Center with noncritical injuries; one of those men was later arrested pending charges related to the homicide.

Then, just after 1 a.m., police went to a second shooting off Lyndale Avenue N. and 46th Avenue N.; one man was injured, but Seroka said the man was expected to survive with noncritical injuries.

A few hours later — about 5 a.m. — police found one woman dead and another woman seriously injured from gunshot wounds in the 2600 block of N. 3rd Street. That woman remained hospitalized in stable condition Saturday evening, Seroka said.

There have been no arrests in the case.

Hours after the incident, the cracking sound of fireworks peppered the neighborhood throughout the afternoon as friends of the women gathered at the scene, placing colorful artificial flowers outside the home. They said the 24-year-old woman who died was a caring young woman from Chicago who had a young daughter.

Smith arrived to pray with the friends and said afterward that the homicide was particularly shocking because it involved an unarmed young woman.

"These women, you've got to protect, not hurt them," he said.

Blong Yang, a City Council member who represents part of north Minneapolis, said he was shocked by the unusual increase in homicides after a relatively quiet year.

"I just shake my head; I don't know what we can do differently," he said. "It's maddening. The folks who live here are sick and tired of it."

Last month, law enforcement increased patrols on the North Side while Smith and church groups increased civilian patrols, trying to confront gun violence. Data released this spring revealed that the number of gun incidents in Minneapolis increased to its highest annual total since 2008, with 1,442 — up 8 percent from 1,330 in 2012.

"The late evening hours of July 4th and the early morning hours of July 5th were particularly violent in our city," Police Chief Janeé Harteau said in a statement Saturday. "… we are concerned about the level of violence and urge people to put their guns down and find another way to resolve personal conflicts."

Anyone with information about the homicides is encouraged to call Minneapolis Police at 612-692-TIPS (8477). Despite the Saturday violence, Smith said he thinks the increased law enforcement and civilian patrols this summer are helping reduce overall crime on the North Side, and he encouraged residents not to get discouraged by the recent shootings.

"I think it's having an impact," he said of the patrols. "People start drinking or whatever happens, you can't solve everything. I just want people to not feel hopeless. We need to continue to support these efforts."