One dead in Minneapolis barbecue shooting

  • Article by: DAN BROWNING , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 10, 2007 - 10:31 PM

An 18-year-old man was killed in a hail of bullets outside a north Minneapolis home. Another was in critical condition.

One man died and another was wounded Saturday when a flurry of at least 11 gunshots shattered a 21st birthday celebration at a back-yard barbecue in north Minneapolis. Police were called on a report of shots fired just after 3 p.m. and found the gunshot victims in the alley behind the house in the 3000 block of James Avenue N. Police said their names were not available.

One witness, who declined to give his name, said about a dozen friends and relatives were standing in the garage behind the house and enjoying the barbecue.

The man said he thought he heard firecrackers going off and spun around to see what was happening. When he looked back he saw his best friend drop to the ground. He said the 18-year-old had been shot in the eye. "When the bullet hit him, I knew he was not going to get up anymore," the man said.

Another friend, whom he would not identify, staggered and tried to get the 18-year-old to sit up before he, too, collapsed, the witness said. Minneapolis police said the wounded man was taken to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale. He was listed in critical condition Saturday night.

A spokeswoman for the dead man's family said Saturday night that no one wanted to comment.

Police marked at least 11 bullet casings that trailed about 15 feet from the sidewalk in front of the house, up a small hill and along the side of the house toward the back yard.

Several young children and a woman could be seen through a picture window as police investigated the crime scene and neighbors came by to inquire about what had happened.

One witness, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation, said she heard six to eight gunshots and looked out her window as a black four-door car with dark-tinted windows accelerated from the scene heading south on James Avenue.

Another witness said two cars may have been involved, one white and one black. An officer at the scene said witnesses had described four different colors, which he said was normal in such circumstances.

But police may have caught a break. A neighbor who keeps a video camera trained on the street may have filmed the vehicle and reportedly turned the tape over to investigators.

Property records show that Yer Vang and Yang Dang bought the small, stucco house in 1995. Toua Yang turned 21 on Saturday and was celebrating with a party.

Andre Rose, who lives up the street, said the family is generally quiet. "I've never had no trouble out of them -- never," Rose said. But he complained that gunshots in the vicinity are a growing problem.

"This violence is getting crazy," Rose said.

Bee Yang, 22, said his cousins lived in the house where the shootings occurred. "I think it was gang-related," he said.

But the dead man's friend adamantly denied that. He said that the 18-year-old had just graduated from high school this year and never had any trouble before. "All he does is go to his girlfriend's house and come home."

Asked why someone would want to target his friends, he said no one targeted them. "It's just somebody who's trying to get control," the man said. "It's just like little kids with guns."

Police said Saturday night that they had no suspects but that investigators were following leads. Anyone with information was asked to call the tip line at 612-692-TIPS (8477).

Dan Browning • 612-673-4493

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