MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It was just after 11 p.m. Monday when gunshots echoed around the housing units of the Little Earth residential community. Two Minneapolis police officers were working another detail nearby and rushed to the scene.
Moments later officers Terry Nutter, Steve Herron, Derek Chauvin, Brandon Brugger and Gwen Gunter saw a man with a pistol running from the scene.
They took chase and the suspect appeared to be running towards one of the large residential units. When he got to the entry door he encountered residents unwilling to let him inside.
“When officers were pursuing the man who fired the shots, they did observe a gun,” said Third Precinct Commander Lucy Gerold. “He was ordered to drop that gun, repeatedly. When he didn’t, he was shot.”
The man who was shot once in the torso is identified as 23-year-old Leroy Martinez. He is an Alaskan Native American who was living with relatives nearby. Investigators believe Martinez may have been targeting a fellow resident when the initial shots were fired.
“Everything I’ve heard really tells me the police were professional in the way they handled this,” said Little Earth President Bill Ziegler.
Martinez was charged Tuesday with felony second-degree assault by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. He faces up to seven years in prison and up to $14,000 in fines if convicted.
Ziegler toured the complex Tuesday to show WCCO-TV how things have changed in recent years. He’s proud of the progress that’s being made, including a drop in crime and a marked increase in the number of teens finishing school. Equally as important is a shift in the feelings of the community’s 1,000 residents, who are growing much less tolerant of crime.
“Anyone who thinks they’re going to come to Little Earth and gang bang, or if they think they’re going to sell drugs or use drugs or victimize this community in any way shape or form, those days are over,” Ziegler said.
In fact, Ziegler said there was a time not that long ago when folks here were suspicious of police and wouldn’t cooperate with criminal investigations. But a new desire for safety within the Little Earth community has left those spreading violence on the outside, looking in.
Martinez is being treated for his gunshot wound at Hennepin County Medical Center and remains in the custody of a police guard.