The shooting death of a 25-year-old man during a parking lot party in north Minneapolis over the weekend has shaken residents and called new attention to the raucous after-hours gatherings.
Shane Webb was killed when two groups confronted each other in the parking lot in the 1100 block of W. Broadway Avenue early Saturday morning, and exchanged gunfire before dispersing, police and witnesses said. An autopsy determined that he died of a gunshot wound to the head. His killer remains at large.
Business owners and residents along Broadway, the area’s main commercial artery, have long complained that the alcohol-fueled parties attract hundreds of youth, including rival gang members, to the lot after dark, creating a volatile mix that sometimes ends in gunplay. After the most recent episode, some worried about retaliatory violence.
Department spokeswoman Sgt. Catherine Michal said that Webb appeared to have been targeted and the shooting was not random. Part of the attack was captured on a mobile police camera stationed in the parking lot in response to other shootings, she said.
“Sometimes, in these cases, it can be tough to determine who fired, but in this case, the shooting was captured on a surveillance camera that Inspector [Mike] Kjos had moved specifically into that area a couple weeks ago,” said Michal, adding that the camera itself was struck by gunfire over the weekend.
“It may not be hard to solve these cases, but it is hard to prevent them,” acting police Chief Medaria Arradondo said in a statement.
A troubled history
The parking lot where Webb died has been the site of violence before.
In July 2016, gunfire erupted during another large gathering there, leaving 24-year-old Andre Riley dead and two others wounded. No one has ever been charged in the crime. Earlier that year, a 29-year-old man was shot in the lot. In recent months, police have visited the site frequently, but local merchants said that doesn’t help.
One building in particular near the middle of the block, which includes a Boost Mobile store and a T-shirt retailer, has been blamed for much of the trouble, with city officials accusing its owner of running an underground, off-the-books bar.
Several attempts to reach the building’s owner, Leshoin Kimbrough, for comment failed.
Judith Cole, an assistant Hennepin County attorney, said the property was added to area’s list of nuisance properties in November 2016 after a string of incidents in which police were called.
In at least one instance, officers found “evidence of illegal alcohol sales at the property,” Cole said.
After-hours gatherings, like the one that preceded the shooting, have been on city officials’ radar for some time, said Council Member Blong Yang, who represents a portion of the North Side.
“It’s a problem,” said Yang, chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee. “I think behind the scenes folks are looking at what to do next, in terms of regulatory enforcement.”
Lack of political will
Council President Barb Johnson said that city and county officials are considering their options for taking on similar “nuisance” properties. But she questioned whether there was a political will to tackle the problem, when the council is spending its time on regulating menthol cigarettes and plastic bags.
“The priorities of this city and this council are not reflective of the challenges that we face in north Minneapolis — it’s somewhat of a joke,” Johnson said.
Johnson cited police statistics showing that the number of people shot jumped from 226 in 2014 to 341 in 2016. So far this year, the Fourth Precinct has seen a drop in both shooting victims and violent crime.
A woman who was also injured in the shooting was hospitalized at Hennepin County Medical Center, police said, and is expected to survive.