2 wounded in shooting near Coyle Center

  • Article by: ANTHONY LONETREE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 24, 2011 - 11:17 PM

The men are expected to survive. In 2008, an Augsburg College student was fatally wounded there.

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Crime scene tape still hung outside the community center Monday evening as Minneapolis police investigators continued their work.

Photo: David Brewster, Star Tribune

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Two men were wounded in a drive-by shooting Monday outside a bustling community center in Minneapolis' Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

About 5:30 p.m., the two were standing near the entrance of the Brian Coyle Community Center when a car drove by "and opened fire," said Tony Wagner, president of Pillsbury United Communities, which runs the center.

Minneapolis police spokesman Sgt. William Palmer said one man was hit in the leg and the other in the abdomen. Initially, he said the injuries to the victim struck in the torso were potentially life-threatening, but later he said the man is expected to survive.

As of late evening, police had yet to make an arrest.

The community center, at 420 15th Av. S., just southeast of downtown, is a popular gathering spot for the neighborhood's large Somali immigrant population.

Jamal Abdi, 21, said the victims had been inside playing basketball about 20 minutes before the shooting with a group that included Abdi. The two stepped outside, perhaps for a cigarette, Abdi said, and after hearing the shots, he went to see one victim on the ground outside and the other inside -- both wounded.

Abdi said he believed the two probably were bystanders, not targeted victims, and that had him worried about whether the center was safe enough for him to return: "Anybody could be the same guy who got hit," he said.

Wagner said keeping young people from congregating outside is a constant struggle, and that staff members are committed to moving people along. Ten minutes before the shooting, he said, there was no one outside, according to one employee. As for how many people were there at the time of the shooting, Wagner said he was told at least three.

No one at the center told him the victims had been inside playing basketball.

The victims were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance. Police quickly cordoned off the parking lot with yellow crime tape and began their investigation. A window pane in front of the center was pierced, apparently by a gunshot.

In the hour after the shooting, about 25 people gathered across the street to watch police work; those willing to talk said they hadn't witnessed the gunfire. A security guard at a high-rise across the street said four shots were fired. He said work policy prohibited him from giving his name.

Palmer declined to discuss the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

"This is not a surprising shock," said Fadumo Abokar, 15, who was visiting her grandmother nearby when she heard someone had been shot and rushed to see what had happened. "For a while, things around here were going well," but recently there has been more strife in the area, she said, attributing the increased tensions to gang activity.

Wagner said that until recently, the center had part-time security as part of an arrangement with other Cedar-Riverside institutions. The security was primarily indoors, he said, adding: "We're working to see how to get that type of situation back."

On Sept. 22, 2008, Ahmed Nur Ali, a 20-year-old student at nearby Augsburg College who had been volunteering at Brian Coyle, was shot to death outside the center. Murder charges subsequently filed against a 17-year-old Minneapolis boy were dropped in June 2009 after key witnesses recanted statements or left the state.

Staff writer Mary Lynn Smith contributed to this report. Anthony Lonetree • 612-673-4109

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