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Alisha Neeley

Alisha Neeley

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No arrests, plenty of pleas for help solving shootings

  • Article by: MATT McKINNEY
  • Star Tribune
  • March 1, 2010 - 10:52 PM

With no arrests made Monday in either a teen's tragic death or the shoot-out on a city bus, city leaders and residents alike called for help in catching the armed criminals behind several violent incidents over the weekend.

Although police aren't sure whether any of the incidents, including several other shootings, are connected, they do know that dozens of people were outside a party with 17-year-old Alisha Neeley when she was shot and killed Friday night in the Folwell neighborhood.

"There were 50 to 100 kids at that party," Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said Monday. "Collectively they know a lot, if not everything of what went on."

Rybak urged anyone with information about any of the weekend shootings to contact police or call the anonymous tips line, 1-866-SPEAK-UP (1-800-773-2587).

The mayor released a public letter Monday calling on city residents to join together to fight youth violence. He also said he believes Minneapolis has the right strategies for fighting violence, including a new program presented last month that steers young hospital patients who appear to be victims of violence toward the help they need.

Plenty of other city residents and activists also urged kids to come forward with what they know.

"We are responsible for keeping our community safe,'' said Carol Batsell Benner, a North Side resident and former public defender with the Hennepin County public defender's office.

"Killing is allowed to continue because we take pride in protecting those who are harassing our community. That whole thing, 'I don't snitch' -- why not? Why would you want to live next door to people who threaten us?"

10th homicide of 2010

And though Neeley's death was the 10th homicide in Minneapolis so far this year, compared with 19 in all of 2009, a group that studies homicide rates cautioned against making too much out of the weekend's mini crime wave.

"This might just be a correction based on what happened this past year, but it's too early to tell," said Dallas Drake, the principal researcher at the Center for Homicide Research, a Minneapolis nonprofit organization. The programs that have been put in place to slow youth violence should continue, he said, despite last year's lower crime rate. "Too often once something starts to work we start to back off, thinking, 'Oh, the problem's solved.'"

In addition to Neeley's death, two teens were hospitalized after being shot on a Metro transit bus near Humboldt Avenue N. and 53rd Street late Saturday night; two men were injured in Sunday shootings, and mourners gathered to remember Neeley on Saturday were forced to scatter when gun shots rang out. There have been no arrests in any of the incidents, police said Monday.

A longtime street activist said he thinks at least some of the shootings are the result of neighborhood groups taking revenge on one another.

"There's a war going on," said K.G. Wilson, founder and president of Hope Ministries and spokesman for the Charez Jones Foundation. "These are cliques, little neighborhood groups, maybe just two friends, who found out the power of guns and what guns can do."

Matt McKinney • 612-673-7329

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