St. Paul’s black leaders called on the public to help solve a recent homicide and combat gun violence in the city before more people are hurt.
Tuesday’s plea by the African-American Leadership Council, the St. Paul NAACP and the St. Paul Black Ministerial Alliance comes on the heels of an unsolved homicide and recent shootings, including one that wounded the son of prominent activist John Thompson.
“Our plea, our ask today is to our community. … We’re asking you to turn yourself in,” said Tyrone Terrill, president of the African-American Leadership Council. “The most important thing for our community is to allow healing, to allow peace and to allow an opportunity to deal with this level of violence.”
Since the start of the year, 98 people have been shot in St. Paul; 73 percent of the victims were black, according to St. Paul police. Of 10 homicides in the city this year, eight were the result of gunfire, said police spokesman Steve Linders.
Devon L. Goode, 21, of St. Paul, was fatally shot Aug. 12 while playing dice on a St. Paul street. Malik D. Turner, 19, of St. Paul, was charged with second-degree murder for allegedly killing Goode in order to rob him of $332.
On Aug. 16, Lil R. Molin, 26, of St. Paul, was fatally shot on the 1400 block of Maryland Avenue E. near the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). No arrests have been made in the case.
On Saturday, two women and a man were injured by gunfire outside of Willard’s Liquors. No arrests have been made in that case.
“Officers attempted to speak to people there, but nobody seemed to want to cooperate,” Linders said of Saturday’s shooting. “We need people with information to come forward.”
Community leaders who gathered Tuesday at the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center called for people to turn themselves in, for community members to share any information they may have and for anyone who is afraid to reach out to community leaders for assistance.
“It’s easy to hide in the shadows and in the dark, but enough is enough,” said Greg Jackson Sr., a board member of the St. Paul NAACP and an activist with Men of MARCH (Men Are Responsible to Cultivate Hope). “We can’t keep senselessly killing one another and think that it’s OK.”
Terrill said the public plea was prompted by the recent shootings and the high percentage of black victims. He and others urged anyone who is afraid of turning themselves into police to call a 24-hour hotline run by Men of MARCH: 612-872-4997.
A Men of MARCH member will accompany people turning themselves into police. The effort can bridge the gap between community members and police, activists said.
“Sometimes you need an intermediary,” said longtime activist Robert McClain. “People are afraid.”
Dianne Binns, president of the St. Paul NAACP, also offered her cellphone, 651-500-8754, to anyone wanting help in reporting a crime or turning themselves in.
Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter, Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington, Ramsey County Sheriff Jack Serier and St. Paul Police Deputy Chief Paul Iovino, among others, attended the activists’ call for help.
Iovino said Chief Todd Axtell was out of town. Some of St. Paul’s recent shootings are isolated incidents, and others are being investigated for possible links, Iovino said.
Police and activists made a similar plea last year during an increase in gun violence. Iovino said 2018 was shaping up to be an improvement but that gun violence appeared to jump in August.