Family angry, police anxious after boy's fatal shooting

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune staff writer
  • Updated: June 27, 2012 - 11:25 PM

As police sought clues to 5-year-old's slaying, relatives bristled at hints that someone in the family may know who fired fatal shot.

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Rochelle Banks Wowo, grandmother of Nizzel Anthony George.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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Angered at how they've been portrayed, the family of a 5-year-old slaying victim struck back Wednesday at police assertions that someone in their house has been involved in a neighborhood dispute with his killer.

The police theory of the shooting that took place Tuesday morning in the 4500 block of Bryant Av. N. holds that two groups of people in the Camden neighborhood, one of whom was at the home where Nizzel Anthony George lived, were engaged in a dangerous, ongoing dispute.

"Who?" asked Rochelle Banks Wowo, Nizzel's grandmother, when told that police said someone in her house may know who sprayed gunfire at her house Tuesday morning from across the street, striking Nizzel in the back as he slept on a couch in the living room.

"Who knows? My grandbaby? My 12-year-old?" she asked.

Investigators served a search warrant at a house in the 4500 block of Camden Av. N. overnight Tuesday, according to a police spokesman, searching a house that had been shot up hours before Nizzel's killing.

In an interview Wednesday, Police Chief Tim Dolan said he believes that people in the neighborhood may know more than they've told the police so far.

"I know that the family likely has a good idea of who did this," said Dolan. "My worry is that somebody will try to do something on their own versus coming forward with information that we need to be able to finish this case up. I'd hate to see that."

Police investigators reached out to the public Wednesday afternoon to ask for more tips. In their statement, police said four homicide investigators, along with officers from the Fourth Precinct and the Violent Criminal Apprehension Team, worked through the night.

"We still need the public's help with additional information," the statement read.

$1,000 reward offered

Anyone with information was encouraged to call the homicide investigators at 612-673-2941. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call 612-692-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers of Minnesota has posted a reward of up to $1,000 for information.

Autopsy results released Wednesday said Nizzel, who family members had referred to on Tuesday as Nezzel Banks, was killed by a single bullet. He was pronounced dead at 9:02 a.m. Tuesday at North Memorial Hospital, about half an hour after the shooting, according to the autopsy.

The family has made preliminary arrangements for Nizzel and plans to hold his funeral at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Shiloh Temple.

Nizzel's death came six months to the day after Terrell Mayes Jr., 3, was shot and killed by a stray bullet that ripped into his family home. The day after Christmas in north Minneapolis, Terrell and his brothers ran for the safety of an upstairs closet when gunfire erupted in the 2600 block of Colfax Avenue N.

A bullet that came through the wall struck Terrell in the head as he climbed the stairs. He died the next day. His slaying remains unsolved.

mckinney@startribune.com • 612-673-7329

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