This is a place where neighbors help each other find lost pets. It’s where tidy yards are filled with flower beds and children pedal their tricycles and amble down sidewalks.
Now it’s the latest site of police gun violence in the Twin Cities, where deadly force has left a resident dead and shocked a quiet Minneapolis neighborhood. Justine Damond died late Saturday after being shot by a police officer responding to her 911 call.
“It shouldn’t have happened in any neighborhood, but I can’t believe it happened here,” said Tom Cooner, who has lived in the area for 35 years and paused by Damond’s house while walking his dog Monday.
Damond’s house in the Fulton neighborhood of southwest Minneapolis drew visitors and passersby throughout the day. Some drove in from out of town. Others seemed to stare at her house in disbelief.
“It’s too close to home,” said Caroline Rice, who lives nearby in Uptown and spent the afternoon near Damond’s home. “We want justice. We want less gun violence — not more.”
People gathered on the front lawn of the home on Washburn Avenue S. and held hands. One described Damond as kind, “a lovely person.”
They held a news conference just before noon Monday, expressing support for Damond’s family and frustration at the lack of information about what happened to their neighbor.
“People want answers,” said Bethany Bradley, a neighbor and member of the steering committee of Women’s March Minnesota. “There’s no transparency by the police.”
Another neighbor, Drew Rosielle, said his heart goes out to her family. The shooting makes him reticent to call police, he said.
“This could easily happen to me and my wife, calling for police and asking for help,” he said. “It hits really close to home.”
Flashing lights and sirens are an uncommon sight in the area, neighbors said. Several added that they have always felt safe at all times of the day.
Fulton, just southwest of Lake Harriet and along the border with Edina, has recently been among the safest neighborhoods in Minneapolis.
Through the first four months of the year, there were 22 crimes reported in the neighborhood, down from 30 during the same time last year, according to police department statistics. There have been three violent crimes through the end of the April, the last day for which reliable data are available. Last year, there were none in that time period.
Crime reports up
Across the police department’s Fifth Precinct, which covers Fulton and most of southwest Minneapolis, violent crimes such as homicides and aggravated assaults are up compared to this time last year, in line with a citywide trend. Violent and property crimes in the area have all increased over 2016, with the exception of robberies, which are down 6 percent.
“I’ve lived here seven years and I’ve never seen a police car in this neighborhood,” said Mike Benz, who lives three blocks away from the Damonds’ home and who was out walking his dog.
It’s a nice neighborhood, he said, albeit one that’s “embarrassingly white” and “embarrassingly upper-middle class.” The shooting, Benz said, was “terrible.”
Damond was known to many people in the neighborhood through her involvement in the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community. Connie Andrew, another southwest Minneapolis resident and the wife of former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew, said she had heard Damond speak there many times.
“The church is devastated,” she said.
Tim Myer, another southwest Minneapolis resident, said the shooting shocked him. His wife, Sarah Doebler, said Damond’s death left her feeling helpless, but also feeling like something should be done.
“It’s ridiculous,” Doebler said. “I’ve called 911 before. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do to keep your community safe?”
Staff writer Libor Jany contributed to this report.