Dozens of neighbors and community outreach workers gathered Sunday outside North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale to pray for Trinity Ottoson-Smith, a 9-year-old girl shot in the head while bouncing on a trampoline the night before.
Trinity remained in critical condition Sunday evening, according to Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder.
She was shot about 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the Jordan neighborhood while playing with other children, who were not injured.
The shooter was in a red four-door Ford vehicle that drove down an alley in the 2200 block of Ilona Avenue N. before firing at a residence, police said.
"She didn't deserve it. She was doing what innocent kids do," said Raishawn Smith, Trinity's father. "She was caught in the crossfire of senseless violence."
Smith described his daughter as "the most patient, kindhearted person" he knows. For as long as he can remember, he said Trinity has wanted to teach babies — something she loves practicing with her 4-year-old sister.
"She's tough. She's fierce. She's a beautiful person, inside and out," Smith said.
Participants who congregated in a circle outside the hospital clasped hands and prayed for Trinity, as well as an end to gun violence. Another child, 10-year-old Ladavionne Garrett Jr., was shot while riding in a vehicle in Minneapolis two weeks ago and remains in critical condition in North Memorial. The boy's parents embraced Smith after the prayer circle.
"There is no reason that our babies are catching bullets because we can't put guns down," said Mercedes Thomas, who does youth outreach for A Mother's Love initiative. She led the group in prayer outside the Ilona Avenue house, where the trampoline sat empty next to a plastic pool.
City Council Member Phillipe Cunningham tweeted Sunday evening that the shooting "wouldn't be tolerated if it were happening anywhere else." He argued that the City Council's strategy for addressing gun violence in north Minneapolis wasn't supported by Mayor Jacob Frey.
A spokesperson for Frey said in a statement that the mayor was meeting with community leaders in north Minneapolis on Sunday evening "to have action-oriented conversations about rebuilding community safety systems with new targeted initiatives to interrupt and crack down on the gun violence."
"Mayor Frey's heart is with the family as they pray for their daughter's recovery," the statement said.
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said in a statement Sunday he has worked with Frey to try to fund public safety programs, but added "those efforts, and consequently our ability to scale up focused gun violence enforcement, have been met with resistance."
"Our elected officials must also remember that broad statements that either vilify police or advocate for reducing an already critically depleted department only helps to embolden those individuals in our communities that choose to commit acts of violence believing they are shielded from being held accountable," he said. "Now more than ever our city needs hope and healing."
The shooting was one of several acts of violence across the Twin Cities over the weekend.
Two groups of Minneapolis police officers were attacked in downtown and Uptown in a spate of violence late Saturday night into and early Sunday morning, according to Elder.
People threw rocks and other debris at police or sprayed mace as the officers responded to calls for service, Elder said. About 1 a.m., a group of drivers gathered near Hennepin and Lagoon Avenues in Uptown for racing and "exhibition driving." Police officers who were called to the scene to disperse the crowd were injured when some people started throwing objects at them. Two officers were taken to HCMC for treatment.
And then at the 2 a.m. bar closing in downtown, fights broke out and a stabbing was reported. Police responded, eventually finding two people with "substantial head wounds." Some of the bar patrons fought with police, including a person who used a large stick to hit an officer while another person sprayed chemical irritant at the officers, according to Elder. Five people were either cited or booked on a variety of charges. One police officer went to HCMC for treatment, as did the two civilians with head injuries.
"We are seeing more and more people that are being confrontational with law enforcement," said Elder. "The fact of the matter is it's unlawful and it's criminal behavior and people will be arrested as the opportunity arises."
Elsewhere, three people were shot while standing in front of a business in the 1700 block of East Lake Street early Sunday morning. The victims — two males and one female — were taken to HCMC with noncritical injuries.
A few hours later, police found a man lying on the ground and covered in blood near the intersection of Girard and Lowry Avenues North. The man was taken to North Memorial Health Hospital with a nonlife threatening gunshot wound.
St. Paul was not immune from the violence. Police said two people were shot Saturday at a bus stop near Maryland Avenue East and Hazelwood Street at around 8:45 p.m. The victims were listed in critical condition.