The man shot to death at a house party in Minneapolis’ Near North neighborhood early Saturday was the grandson of veteran peace and civil rights activist Spike Moss.
Authorities haven’t publicly named the victim, but Moss identified him as 27-year-old Kevin Beasley.
Police found Beasley unconscious inside a home in the 1100 block of N. Irving Avenue, with apparent gunshot wounds to the head and torso, according to emergency scanner reports. Officers responded to the location shortly before 2 a.m. after a ShotSpotter activation. Reports say Beasley had been attending an after-hours party when an altercation escalated into gunfire.
On Sunday afternoon, several hundred people gathered at the same spot for a vigil honoring Beasley. Peace activist K.G. Wilson handed out face masks to the restless crowd, who listened to speaker after speaker express shock at how a man so full of life could have been taken so suddenly.
Beasley’s mother, Helen, implored anyone who knew something about the shooting to come forward.
“All I’m asking is if you know anything about my son, my son, to lay my son down in peace, please tell the police who took my son’s life,” she said. “Y’all took my king, my everything, my pride.”
Moss said that his grandson had his share of problems growing up but was starting to find direction, even starting classes at Dunwoody College of Technology.
“He was like any young person, out here struggling trying to find his way in the world,” Moss said in an interview Saturday. “I loved him dearly — I wish he was here to live his life.”
Court records show that Beasley had prior convictions for weapons offenses and robbery.
In the hours after the shooting, Beasley’s Facebook page was flooded with tributes from friends, who recalled him as loyal, upbeat and a “protector.” One commenter wrote that Beasley, who went by “Texas,” had taught him how to ride a bike.
Moss said his grandson was the latest victim in an alarming trend of young black men who are victims or perpetrators of shootings.
“This was our epidemic before the epidemic,” he said, referring to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
After spending many of his early years fighting for civil rights, Moss said he has focused his advocacy on reducing violence in his community, the causes of which he said range from structural racism and easy access to guns to the large number of children being raised in homes without fathers.
Community members have offered differing accounts of what happened at the party, but Moss said he was told Beasley may have tried to intervene in a dispute.
A flier for the event promised exotic dancing, drinks, food and gambling for a $20 cover charge — in defiance of the state’s social-distancing orders. A screenshot of the flier was shared with a reporter.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the gunfire detected by ShotSpotter stemmed from Beasley’s shooting or the chaotic scene that followed.
No arrests had been made as of Sunday evening.
Three other shootings took place Saturday:
• One man was fatally shot in the 1400 block of E. Minnehaha Avenue in St. Paul.
• Mankato police exchanged gunfire with an armed robbery suspect near the Minnesota River. The suspect was dead at the scene.
• A man and woman who knew each other were fatally shot in Forest Lake. No suspects were being sought.
Staff writer Kim Hyatt contributed to this report.