More than 200 people quietly listened for more than an hour Thursday night as Burnsville police reassured residents that the North River Hills area of the city was safe, despite four violent deaths and several other crimes there this year.
The mayor, City Council members, school superintendent and a state representative were among those at Mary Mother of the Church Catholic Church for a gathering that was prompted by the Sept. 22 homicide of Palagor O. Jobi, 23, outside Nina’s Grill, and the disappearance that night of Anarae Schunk, 20, whose body was found nine days later in a ditch in Rice County.
Police Chief Eric Gieseke said he appreciated the community concern as reflected by the turnout. “I cannot promise you as police chief that bad things will not happen. But Burnsville Police Department does care.”
He asked residents to phone the police if they see something unusual. “Trust your gut. If you see things that don’t look right, don’t feel right, please call us.”
Other recent incidents that have residents concerned include:
• The June 9 homicide of 4-year-old Keyontay Miller-Peterson at his home on Horizon Heights Road.
• The Aug. 13 homicide of Abdifatah Ahmed Mahumod, 23, and the wounding of another man in the Andrew’s Pointe townhouse complex in the 2100 block of E. 117th Street.
• Twelve acts of vandalism — graffiti — on Aug. 28 in North River Hills Park, Birnamwood Golf Course and other places.
• A hostage situation Sept. 7 at a Holiday gas station where no one was injured.
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom spoke at length on how his department works and presented statistics showing that violent crime is going up in Dakota County and that many violent crimes are drug-related.
He told the audience his department would bring charges in the Schunk case as soon as the evidence is in line.
Drew Evans of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said Burnsville has a crime rate similar to Woodbury’s, a rate that falls in the middle in a crime rate comparison of similar-size cities.