Authorities and relatives of Tyrone Williams appealed to the public Wednesday to help in identifying who shot the well-known and respected community activist the previous afternoon on Minneapolis’ North Side.
Officers found Williams, the brother of former City Council candidate Raeisha Williams, laying on the sidewalk near the corner of N. 8th and Elwood avenues, on Tuesday evening. He had been shot at least twice — in the chest and the lower body — and was rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center, where doctors tried to revive him, authorities say.
Police said that they are trying to track down several vehicles that were seen leaving the scene shortly after gunfire broke out, but have not otherwise identified any suspects or a motive. Several detectives have been assigned to the case.
“May my brother rest in eternal peace. 4/3/18,” Raeisha Williams posted on her Facebook page later Tuesday night, below an undated photograph of her brother holding a baby. Williams, who lost last fall to current Fifth Ward council member Jeremiah Ellison, later asked anyone with information about the shooting to come forward.
“He meant so much to me, our family, his children, and our community,” she said in a statement posted on social media Wednesday.
One of his last public appearances was when he got up to speak at a community forum on public safety last week.
After proudly identifying himself as a member of an “third-generation Minneapolis black family,” Williams lamented the lack of trust in law enforcement, drawing steady applause from the audience that included Mayor Jacob Frey and police Chief Medaria Arradondo.
“It’s tiring, it’s old, we need more action,” he said, according to a video posted on North News’ Facebook page. “I don’t wanna waste no more time.”
On Wednesday, people who’d crossed paths with Williams remembered him for his gentle, but powerful presence.
“He wasn’t known for destroying, he was known for building, and that’s what breaks my heart,” said V.J. Smith, of MAD DADS. “He was the kind of young man that you could trust at grandma’s house.”
As he spoke, KG Wilson, a longtime anti-violence crusader nodded in agreement.
He said that Williams thrived on giving back to the community, serving as a mentor to young adults, and speaking out about police brutality and the importance of black entrepreneurship.
“This young man, he was a freedom fighter,” said Wilson, who like Smith had returned to the crime scene Wednesday to pay his respects. Less than a block away, a colorful mural covered a garage, listing the names of other victims of gun violence, including Alisha Neeley, a 17-year-old girl who was gunned down on the North Side in 2010.
Rosemary Nevils-Williams said that her son’s death wouldn’t be in vain.
“His spirit for social justice will continue on and inspire us all to do even more. We must work with the children and teach them to love themselves, so they can love others,” she said in the same statement. “We must combat oppression against African Americans and other people of color in all its forms.”
A news release that accompanied the statement said that Williams had dedicated his last years to serving on the “front lines protesting many injustices, including police violence, white supremacy, economic injustice, and community violence.”
Frey in a Facebook post Wednesday remembered Williams as being devoted to his community and social justice — and a man “who lived his values daily by working to dismantle systems that have marginalized and disenfranchised so many in our community.”
“We have to confront our past in order to move toward a better future for all – and that includes acknowledging the inequities and injustices that have been done to communities of color,” he wrote.
William’s death echoed the killing of 32-year-old Muhiyidin Moye, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist who was gunned down while riding a bike in New Orleans in February.
A police spokesman on Wednesday would only confirm that the investigation was ongoing, but declined to comment on the theory that the slaying stemmed from a dispute with a former roommate.
He said that tipsters could pass along information anonymously by calling CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or the department’s tip line at 612-692-8477. People with information can also text their tip to 847411. Enter MPD, a space, and then the information.