Tomika Swoope walked her cousin to the bus stop a block and half away, then made a quick stop at the Southside Food & Deli for an orange Push-Up Monday night. She was just steps from her front door when her family in the 3200 block of Columbus Avenue S. heard the pow-pow-pow-pow-pow of gunshots.
Swoope, 19, was hit just above her left eyebrow shortly after 10 p.m. She was in critical condition Tuesday night at Hennepin County Medical Center, where doctors told her family she has 24 to 36 hours at most to live, said her uncle, Ernest Breland.
"It doesn't look good," he said, as he and other family members and friends kept vigil at the hospital.
Police spokesman Sgt. Bill Palmer said late Tuesday that "we don't have enough information to publicly release anything about our investigation."
Breland said he'd just gotten out of the shower and gone upstairs to his room when he heard the gunshots. He looked out his window and saw his niece lying on the sidewalk.
He rushed outside, picked her up and sped to Abbott Northwestern Hospital. From there, she was transferred to HCMC.
Breland said he and other family members were questioned for hours at police headquarters after the shooting and then went to the hospital.
Breland and other family members said Swoope, who went by "Jay," wasn't in a gang or affiliated with one. He said she graduated last year from MERC Alternative High School, worked as a server at a Culver's restaurant and wanted to be a police officer.
Breland said the Tens gang has been warring with the Bloods gang, "and we live in the Bloods' neighborhood." There have been three or four shootings in the past month, he said.
Breland speculated that Swoope, who was wearing red the night she was shot, was mistaken for a gang member.
Sgt. Palmer said he had no information on a possible gang turf war in the neighborhood.
Jeane Tinsley, Swoope's grandmother who raised her since she was 6 months old, had to leave the hospital Tuesday afternoon. Back at home, though, she couldn't rest. The phone rang and rang again.
Tinsley, 69, raised six children and many grandchildren. "I stopped counting," she said when asked how many. Swoope was the last one living in Tinsley's home.
Swoope's brother, Anthony Blair Price, 20, was beaten to death in April 2003 at Park and Franklin avenues in Minneapolis in a dispute family members said involved a radio.
A wooden baseball bat stands on Tinsley's front stoop. Two more are behind the front door.
"A lot of trouble, a lot of trouble," Tinsley said of the neighborhood. But her own kids and grandkids -- and many of the neighbor kids -- grew up knowing that if they got into any trouble, there'd be swift punishment.
On Monday night, Tinsley had watched as her granddaughter left with cousins.
"She had to get a Push-Up,'' Tinsley said. "I told her, get me one of those long things, those long things, ya know, Slim Jims."
Tinsley said the Slim Jim was found under Swoope's body after the shooting.
Pat Pheifer • 612-741-4992