A bloody weekend of shootings in north Minneapolis that left two dead and four wounded took place amid a rise in aggravated assaults citywide and especially on the North Side.

So far this year, aggravated assaults (a category that includes shootings) are up 9 percent over last year and 17 percent in north Minneapolis.

“Too much liquor, too many drugs in people’s systems and some unknown stuff that we don’t even know what the heck is going on at 2, 3 in the morning,” are behind this weekend’s shootings, said V.J. Smith, the president of MAD DADS and someone who often works with the families of homicide victims.

Police Chief Janeé Harteau made an unusual appeal to the public Saturday as news of the shootings spread, issuing a statement that urged people to put down their guns. She plans to address the news media Tuesday afternoon while patrolling a neighborhood near the scene of one of the shootings.

The weekend’s first homicide took place in the 3400 block of Dupont Av. N. at 11:51 p.m. July 4, when Cabrie D. Young, 28, of Minneapolis, was shot in the chest and killed. Two other men were shot in the same incident and required hospitalization. One of those men was later arrested in connection with Young’s death, a police spokesman said.

Five hours later, someone shot and killed Francesca M. DeSandre, 24, of Minneapolis, in the 2600 block of N. 3rd St. Another woman was seriously injured in the same incident.

The city has seen fewer homicides so far this year than is typical, with 16 so far; it has averaged about 43 homicides a year.

The recent spate of shootings will be the subject of a meeting Wednesday, said city activist Al Flowers, of the Community Standards Initiative.

“We’re concerned about what’s going on,” said Flowers, who said the group’s meetings this summer have drawn high-level Minneapolis police officials, community leaders and former gang members to talk about crime.

The group’s meetings have covered a wide range of topics, said Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, who has participated in past talks.

He said tackling crime has been difficult because trying to understand what’s happening on the street has led to conversations about unemployment levels to current gang structure.

So many of the shootings tend to involve small gangs of six or seven members with no real leadership that are organized block by block. “It’s much harder for police to crack,” he said.

Still, Hayden said, the city has come a long way from 1995, a year when Minneapolis had a soaring homicide rate and was dubbed “Murderapolis” by a New York Times reporter.

“One of my friends got murdered that year,” Hayden said.