A recent series of shooting deaths and injuries in Minneapolis is frightening and frustrating residents who want police and city officials to do more to curb what they call a wave of unchecked gang violence.
In just the past week, gunfire has killed at least three people and wounded 16 across the city, including three people shot at a south Minneapolis gas station Tuesday morning. In one shooting last week, a 17-year-old boy was found dead on the steps of his aunt’s house after he tried to flee his pursuers.
“When does this stop?” asked Peter Hayden, of the Community Standards Initiative (CSI), a group aimed at helping young minority residents. “We have to talk about that.”
Hayden and other community leaders gathered Tuesday afternoon and demanded a chance to talk with Mayor Betsey Hodges, saying police chief Janeé Harteau had ignored their requests. Hayden said she never responded to a letter he sent three months ago seeking a meeting.
“You can’t even get the person who’s supposed to be out there as the community ambassador to respond,” Hayden said, adding, “How do you deal with a community who’s reaching out to the chief and she’s not receptive to that?”
Several other community leaders attended Tuesday’s meeting, including Al Flowers, a longtime activist who heads CSI. Flowers also expressed frustration at what he characterized as the lack of support from law enforcement officials.
Minneapolis Police Department spokesman Scott Seroka, however, said the chief has reached out to Hayden and wants to set up a meeting with his group. Seroka said Harteau was at a meeting on gun violence with Hayden in late July.
Hodges spokeswoman Kate Brickman said the mayor’s office is regularly in touch with community leaders. Ending gun violence and making sure all residents and communities feel safe are among the mayor’s top goals, she said.
“Because we can only reach this goal together, our office regularly talks and collaborates with a wide range of community advocates and leaders from across the city, on this and a wide range of issues,” Brickman said in a statement.
Lisa Clemons, a former Minneapolis police sergeant and longtime activist on the North Side, expressed disappointment that Harteau has been meeting behind closed doors with the department’s Citizens Advisory Committee, an oversight body that serves as an intermediary between police and the community.
The chief also has faced mounting criticism from community leaders after the recent surge in violence and her last-minute decision not to attend a community forum last week on accountability.
She cited security concerns for her decision but insisted that she would continue to keep an open line of communication between her department and the community.
Gang feuds blamed
The latest violence came early Tuesday when three people were hospitalized after being shot at the Moto Mart gas station at E. 33rd Street and Hiawatha Avenue. One of the victims was in serious condition at Hennepin County Medical Center, while two others were being treated for less serious injuries, said Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder.
Elder said police have little information about suspects in the latest shootings. Most of them occurred on the North Side, where gang violence has rippled through several neighborhoods in recent months, community leaders say.
Tuesday’s shooting may have been in retaliation for the death of Dion Toney, 27, an alleged member of the Bogus Boys gang, who community leaders say was the intended target in an August shooting at 400 Soundbar.
In that incident, a gunman opened fire inside the nightclub, wounding at least nine people. Toney died late Sunday after being hospitalized for more than a month.
Police have not made any arrests in the case but said they are aggressively pursuing all leads.
The three people shot Tuesday were believed to have had some involvement in the Soundbar shooting, community leaders said.
But those were only the most recent.
• Eulalio Gonzalez-Sanchez, 36, of Minneapolis, was gunned down about 6:25 a.m. Sunday at the corner of 22nd Avenue NE. and 7th Street as he walked home from the bus stop. No one has been arrested in the case.
• Earl Lee Malone, 18, of Edina, was fatally shot and left in front of a house on the 2600 block of Knox Avenue about 11 p.m. Saturday. Police later arrested a 21-year-old man in connection with the shooting, but it’s unclear when charges will be brought.
• Jemario Langston, 17, of Minneapolis, was shot and killed Sept. 16 by assailants who chased him to his aunt’s house. After hearing gunshots, the aunt opened her back door to find his sprawled body. No one has been arrested.
The Bogus Boys have been locked in a long-simmering struggle with several other South Side gangs, including the Bloods, “10s” and “20s,” said Ferome Brown, an activist who attended Tuesday’s meeting and works to steer young people away from gangs.
Many of the gang members he works with, Brown says, grew up in the same neighborhoods.
“All these kids … used to be friends and they used to be on the same basketball teams,” Brown said. “These kids don’t want to kill each other. But when they see each other, they think that they’ve got to make a name for themselves.”
Brown said he remains hopeful that a solution for the violence will be found. “We’re not Chicago yet,” he said. “We’re not California yet.”