Once again, weekend shootings added to the growing body of evidence that the downtown Minneapolis entertainment district has a gun violence problem. Mostly during early-morning weekend hours, at least 30 people have been wounded by gunfire in the area this year, according to police statistics.
City officials and law enforcement authorities need to react with more than reassuring words.
Early Monday around bar-closing time, a pair of shootings wounded six and left bullet holes in Warehouse District businesses. One of the gun battles unfolded just outside the First Precinct police station — obviously an area with a strong police presence, as well as dozens of 24/7 surveillance cameras.
The shootings and other violent behavior were not isolated incidents, according to some Warehouse District business owners and area residents. Shots are fired in the area nearly every weekend, they say.
After Monday’s shootings, Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Janeé Harteau announced yet another downtown crime-fighting strategy that would add more officers to the force, beef up patrols, and change pedestrian and traffic patterns to promote safety. Authorities said they also would target the small group of people most likely to be involved in gun violence and offer them help to turn their lives around. But if they don’t take it, Hodges said, they’ll be held “accountable.’’ Those steps are welcome, even though some are overdue.
The five men ages 18 to 25 and one juvenile male shot Monday are all believed to be connected to rival gangs. Authorities say that the five men had a total of 110 contacts with police, including some felony convictions.
What to do about such brazen, repeat offenders? It’s fair to ask why many of them remain free to offend again and again. Clearly longer sentences for violent crimes — especially those involving guns — are in order.
Although police say they do step up patrols in the Warehouse District late at night, residents and businesspeople believe more cops should get out of their squads and saturate the area on foot. That’s a smart approach to help residents and visitors feel safer as they come and go from the various entertainment venues.
The Warehouse District and surrounding blocks are home to two stadiums and dozens of restaurants, clubs and theaters, as well as hundreds of apartments, condos and hotel rooms. Patrons of the entertainment venues and those who live and work downtown should feel safe and not have to worry about being caught in the crossfire of rival gang members.
Hodges offered few details about the plan to intervene with repeat offenders, saying she would provide more updates this fall. Let’s hope her next news conference is called to provide more information on those efforts — not to bemoan yet another downtown shooting spree.