Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara is lamenting what he's calling a troubling past few months of gun violence that has contributed to a surge in homicides since November unlike anything seen in the first nine months of the year.

There have been 21 homicides — 10 in November and 11 so far in December — in the city since Nov. 6, with five of the killings coming in a four-day span from Saturday to Tuesday, according to a Star Tribune database. The closest any one month came to cracking double digits was July with eight.

The overwhelming majority of the killings have been carried out with guns.

"Since about mid-October, the fourth quarter has been a challenge for violence," O'Hara said Wednesday. "There has been a significant spike, particularly in gun violence over the last quarter — and that's concerning."

The chief added that "addressing gun violence is a collaborative effort. And we have tremendous collaboration with federal, state and county partners here ... I know we're doing everything we possibly can from the law enforcement perspective to continue to drive through this problem."

The rapid increase in homicides has pushed the city's total for the year to 73, still behind the 80 that Minneapolis experienced over the same time period in 2022.

The violent death toll in recent days could have been even higher if gunfire that damaged two windows at a north Minneapolis day care early Tuesday evening had struck children or others inside during a visit from Santa Claus.

The Santa gathering was one floor below the room where the windows were shot out, O'Hara said from the scene. He noted that some children had been in the room hit by the gunfire immediately before the shooting at New Horizon Academy, near the intersection of N. Penn and 34th avenues.

"This is absolutely outrageous," the chief said. "There were still plenty of children left in the day care."

The officers and Hennepin County sheriff's deputies were carrying out a "focused enforcement detail" in the area in response to recent gun crimes and violence when they heard the shots, the chief said.

Police traced the gunfire to nearly a block away from the day care in the alley along N. 33rd Avenue. Police believe a man was shooting at someone else but instead hit the day care's second-floor windows, O'Hara said. One person with a gun was arrested, but police were uncertain whether he's connected to the shooting.

Police gave these accounts of the killings during the past several days, with one arrest announced so far:

A fight inside a bar in the 500 block of E. Hennepin Avenue spilled outside about 2 a.m. Saturday, when Franclin Ignacio Orellana, 44, of Blaine, was shot in the head and neck. He died two days later.

On Sunday night, 43-year-old Kesha L. Moore was shot in her Linden Hills apartment during a domestic dispute. Estranged boyfriend Johnny Leroy Brown, 50, was arrest and charged with her murder.

Mid-afternoon Monday, police found Shane A. Johnson, 42, of Minneapolis, with numerous stab wounds in an apartment just south of downtown in the 100 block of E. 18th Street. Police have yet to explain the circumstances leading up to the killing.

Shortly before 9:30 pm. Monday, a man in his 30s was shot to death in a home in the 1900 block of N. 44th Avenue. A police report said witnesses reported that a friend of the victim fled the scene. The victim's identity has yet to be released.

Early Tuesday evening, police searched an abandoned house on the North Side for possible suspects in a shooting in the 900 block of N. Newton Avenue that left a man dead. Officials have yet to release his identity. A search of the residence found it to be empty.

Star Tribune staff writers Andy Mannix, Louis Krauss and Kim Hyatt contributed to this report.