The day after a teenage boy was killed in brazen shooting at a light-rail stop in the downtown core, scores of undeterred Twins fans flooded the streets of Minneapolis for an afternoon game against the Detroit Tigers.

While a few expressed concerns about the ongoing violence in the city, many had not heard about the shooting and others who had said it wasn't going to stop them from going out.

"If you live in Minneapolis, I think your view is completely different than the rest of the state," said TJ Sheldon of south Minneapolis, who is not concerned about spending time downtown. "What you hear on the news, too, sometimes it makes it sound worse than it is."

"Something could happen four blocks away and a bullet could come over here and hit us. If you keep thinking that in your head, you're never going to go out, and if you never go out then why even have a life?" asked Sheldon's brother, Telly Wilcox of West St. Paul.

About 25,000 fans attended Wednesday afternoon's Twins game. Many crowded onto light-rail trains afterward that traveled right past the scene of the shooting the day before. Sandra Kraemer of Roseville wasn't one of them.

"I will never take the light rail ever again to any event, the rest of my life," said Kraemer as she tried to call an Uber near Kieran's Irish Pub. "Even if it's packed full of Twins fans or Vikings fans, we're still not safe. And I'm sad about it, because we used to take the light rail all the time."

"Simply Unacceptable''

Homicides in Downtown West, the neighborhood where the shooting happened, are down 71% from this time last year, according to Minneapolis police statistics, but gunshot wounds are up 45%.

The neighborhood is seeing a 25% increase in violent crime overall in 2022.

Sandra Sakson, who moved to downtown Minneapolis in 2019 for her husband's job and the ease of getting around the skyways in winter, said the shock of Tuesday's light-rail shooting and what she views as a declining quality of life is making her consider moving.

"This is not just any light-rail station. ... Pre-COVID and pre-riots, [it was] one of the most heavily used light-rail stations downtown," she said.

"Our downtown, like downtowns across the country, is experiencing a rise in use of firearms and other criminal behaviors," said Steve Cramer, president of the Downtown Council and Downtown Improvement District. He called Tuesday's daylight killing "thankfully a rare occurrence."

"Violent criminal behavior is simply unacceptable, and we cannot tolerate it as a community — especially as we work to support bringing more vibrancy back to our downtown," he said.

The suspected shooter, another teenage boy, was apprehended by police within an hour of the killing. He is being held at the juvenile detention center. Charges have not been filed. Police said they believe the suspect knew the victim.

Metro Transit addresses crime

Serious crime throughout Metro Transit's system — including buses and light-rail trains — has declined from from 4,713 incidents in 2019, before the pandemic, to 805 reports so far this year, according to the transit agency.

Those crimes include assault, rape, homicide and drug violations, among others. In 2020, serious crimes totaled 3,466, and 2,939 in 2021 — but ridership plunged after the pandemic struck and is now just over half of what it was prior to COVID, about 78 million rides on buses and trains.

At the Blue and Green Line light-rail stations in downtown Minneapolis — including Target Field, Warehouse District/Hennepin Avenue, Nicollet Mall, Government Plaza and U.S. Bank Stadium — there were 159 reports of serious crimes before May 25. No homicides were reported, and nearly half of the cases involved destruction of property, drug/narcotic violations and drug-equipment violations, according to Metro Transit. For the first half of the year, there were eight aggravated assaults and three robberies.

Metro Transit has been focusing on safety issues, particularly on the Blue and Green Lines, for about four years. The effort has taken on new intensity as more people return to the workplace. Other transit agencies nationwide also face the same problems that may make some passengers feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Issues like homelessness, addiction and mental illness go beyond what Metro Transit can solve.

Recently, Metro Transit has tried to bolster police and community service officers aboard trains, but has been thwarted by a tough hiring market. It also has shortened trains from three cars to two in an attempt to bolster the police presence. And it is hiring private security officers in a pilot program to patrol higher-volume stations, including the Blue Line's Franklin Avenue and Lake St./Midtown stations, both in Minneapolis.

Taking it in stride

Michael Veesenmeyer, 28, of Cottage Grove said he works near Target Field and the location of Tuesday's fatal shooting. He'd heard about a few recent homicides in the area. Yet, coming to Wednesday's game, he said, "I wasn't worried at all."

Skylar Carroll, 26, is from Denver and has been dating Veesenmeyer for five years. They came to the game together. She said she's worried for her partner, but thankful that he works only during the daytime.

Star Tribune Intern Katelyn Vue contributed to this report.

Correction: This story had been updated to correct the year of reported crime data for 2020.