Authorities on Monday identified the man who was fatally shot late at night in downtown Minneapolis, where multiple shootings over the weekend have raised concern among city leadership and prompted calls for an increased police presence.
Joe Willie Ross Jr., 24, of Shakopee, died early Sunday from a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office.
No one has been arrested in connection with the death of Ross, who was found in the road near Washington and 1st avenues N. after being shot about 1:50 a.m. He died less than an hour later at HCMC.
The area includes many restaurants, nightspots and entertainment venues that are bustling on a summer weekend.
Sunday's death marked the third homicide in downtown Minneapolis since Memorial Day weekend. A woman was fatally stabbed on May 25. On June 10, a man was shot dead while apparently trying to break up a fight in an alley. A second man was seriously injured in the same shooting.
Sunday's gunfire also came roughly 24 hours after two men were shot and wounded downtown around bar-closing time early Saturday, and police arrested a juvenile thought to be connected to the crime.
In that incident, an off-duty officer heard gunfire near S. Hennepin Avenue and S. 7th Street about 1:20 a.m. Officers found a man who had been shot. About the same time, another gunshot victim was found in the 500 block of N. 1st Street. Both were expected to survive, police said.
In response to the violence, Steve Cramer of the Mpls Downtown Council said in a statement Monday, "The people who live, work and visit there deserve better than what they too often experience at present."
Cramer, whose group represents business interests downtown, added, "What is also needed at this critical juncture is greater police presence, and clear support for their efforts to root out drug activity, gun violence and intimidating behaviors."
In a statement Sunday afternoon, Mayor Jacob Frey said that he and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo "have made a strong, coordinated response to violent crime a priority. … Still, as the early summer weeks have made clear, we as city leaders should step up and give our Police Department the resources and staffing it needs to successfully advance police-community relations and effectively curb violent crime."
These latest nods to adding more officers echo what one member of the Hennepin Avenue Safety Committee said in late May after the first of three killings downtown.
"We need to double the patrols in downtown and start making arrests on quality-of-life crimes — urinating, drinking, fighting in public, disorderly conduct and small dope dealing," said attorney Joe Tamburino, who also chairs the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association.
"It doesn't matter if the suspects will be released from jail in two days," he added, "because with more arrests we'll be able to send a clear signal that the cost of doing illicit acts in downtown will be spending a few days in jail each time you get caught. The offenders will tire of going in and out of jail."
Hennepin County's chief public defender, Mary Moriarty, called Tamburino's strategy unconstitutional.
"Our law requires people to be released without bail unless they are a danger to the community or there is a strong likelihood that they will not appear in court," Moriarty said Monday. "Punishment such as jail time is only appropriate after conviction, not arrest. It is unlawful to hold people in jail before they are convicted to punish them for petty offenses, like urinating in public."
Tamburino, a former public defender, replied that he wasn't suggesting that anyone's rights be violated but stands by his initial point that people need to be put in jail in order to "enforce these laws on the street so the behavior becomes more difficult."
Anyone with information about Sunday morning's killing is encouraged to call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). All tips are anonymous and information leading to an arrest may lead to a reward. Information can also be called in to police at 612-692-TIPS (8477).