Activist K.G. Wilson demonstrates at the spot where Elija Larkin was killed. LIBOR JANY/Star Tribune

D’Angelo Gilmer made his way home Friday afternoon the way he often did — riding the northbound No. 5 bus that threads through some of the city’s grittiest neighborhoods.

On this day, though, he got off a few stops early and walked to a nearby church, at the corner of 30th and Emerson avenues N., where only days before gunshots had rung out. Out front stood the sort of impromptu memorial of balloons and candles that usually springs up at the scene of a tragedy. This one was intended for a friend.

The friend, 19-year-old Elija Deontae Larkin, was killed Wednesday in an argument that began on the No. 5 bus and resumed at that fateful corner, less than a block from a house he shared with his grandmother, police and friends say.

Reaching the entrance of the church, Gilmer crouched down and lit three candles that been snuffed out by a crisp fall breeze. “It just messed me up in the head,” Gilmer said as he stood to leave, his task complete. “Even if I don’t know the person, I just stop to pay my condolences.”

Larkin, he insisted, had been trying to turn his life around. “He wasn’t a troublemaker,” Gilmer said.

As he spoke, passing motorists honked their horns to show support to a group across the street, holding signs urging an end to the violence that had erupted across the city.

As of Sunday, police had not announced an arrest in the slaying.

Community leaders pinned some of the recent violence, including one incident last month in which gunmen opened fire on mourners attending funeral outside a prominent North Side church, on a bitter internal dispute in the Black P. Stones gang. The ongoing feud, they say, has also been behind several shootings since, but it was not known whether Larkin’s slaying was one of them.

The shooting that ended his life occurred around 6:30 p.m. outside New Bethel Baptist Church. The church’s members were just sitting down to their weekly Wednesday night supper when the ''pop, pop, pop'' of rapid bursts of gunfire rang through the air.

Moments later, a wounded Larkin stumbled into the church’s basement, where he collapsed. He was pronounced dead at 6:40 p.m.

With three slayings last week, Minneapolis is on pace to log its largest number of homicides since 2007, when 47 people were killed in the city.

Officials here, and across the river in St. Paul — which saw two killings in 24 hours last week on the city’s East Side  have few answers.

“I am working hard with Chief Harteau and with our partners across multiple agencies both to identify immediate solutions and to address the root causes of this violence,” Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a statement on Friday. “Minneapolis is a safe city for many people, and everyone deserves to be safe and feels safe here.”

Hodges and other officials have promised to address the slayings at a City Hall press conference on Tuesday.

Not that it mattered much to Larkin’s family, who gathered at his memorial on Friday, shortly before his friend, Gilmer, arrived.

They remembered Larkin as a bright, outgoing man with a ready smile. A friend recalled introducing Larkin to his girlfriend, whom he proudly referred to as “his beautiful black queen.” The couple was expecting their first child, whose framed sonogram photo one of Larkin’s family members clutched.

His death was a reminder “life … is far too precious,” another relative said aloud, to no one in particular.

The following day, a 16-year-old boy was shot in the head in a drive-by shooting as he sat in a car near Farview Park, with an infant strapped into a car seat in the back. The boy was taken off life support a day later.