Neighbors of an abandoned St. Paul house where a gang rape allegedly occurred say they hadn't had problems with it before.
Neighbors of an abandoned house on St. Paul's East Side said Saturday that they hadn't had previous problems with the site where a 14-year-old girl was raped last November by suspected gang members.
In the wake of Friday's charges against nine suspects with alleged ties to a Twin Cities area street gang, residents of the tidy 200 block of White Bear Avenue were scratching their heads.
"It's not something you want to hear about your neighborhood," said Noah McDonald, 31, who rents the house next to the one where the crime allegedly took place.
McDonald, who described living in the area as similar to living in the woods because it's so peaceful, said he hadn't even heard about the incident until the day before, when a reporter told him.
The only crime he could think of from his four years on the block was when the glass at the bus shelter down the street has been smashed occasionally.
"It's still safe," McDonald said, as he took a break from setting up for his 2-year-old son's birthday party. "I still trust my kid to play in the yard, but I'll be more vigilant."
Across the street from the abandoned house, graffiti is scrawled on the sidewalk. More of it can be found on the ceiling of the bus shelter nearby.
Last November, the rape victim was taken to parties at two residences, according to a complaint. While trying to leave the second house, on White Bear Avenue, she was pulled out of a vehicle and carried by two juveniles into a room with just a mattress on the floor. She was held down and raped.
Gang is relatively new
The suspects, five of whom are adults and four of whom are juveniles, are alleged members of, or tied to, the True Blood (TB22) street gang, authorities say.
The gang is a spinoff of an older Asian street gang active in St. Paul, the Crazy Bloods, or CBs. Police say the new group is about five years old and has about 40 members.
Late on Oct. 10, near Case Avenue and Desoto Street in St. Paul, a 21-year-old TB22 gang member fired six to eight rounds from a .45-caliber handgun, striking a nearby resident in the arm, according to a police spokesman and a criminal complaint. The gang member also used the gun to threaten two boys walking in the neighborhood. The suspect and a juvenile accomplice were later arrested.
In late 2010, Prior Lake police and 13 other metro law enforcement agencies investigated a far-reaching burglary ring that included suspects from the True Blood 22 gang. About 50 vehicles, garages and homes were ransacked for all sorts of items, from a federal agent's gun to GPS systems, credit cards and jewelry. Shakopee, Woodbury and Maplewood also were targets in the burglary ring, police said.