MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – Police say a 5-year-old boy has been shot and killed, after a bullet came through his north Minneapolis home while he was sleeping.
The boy’s name is Nizzel George, according to his mother.
“My baby is supposed to be at the swimming pool. My baby is supposed to be at the park. My baby is at the morgue,” said Nizzel’s mother, Christina Banks, who lives in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Park.
Holding a framed picture of her son, Banks sobbed as she looked at the balloons, candles and angel figurines left outside the home where the shooting happened. Nizzel’s small Chicago Bulls jacket and photos of the boy helped fill out the memorial.
Banks said Nizzel was a smart boy who was about to enter first grade. He loved to swim and ride his bike.
“He was going to first grade. That was my first grader. They took my first grader from me,” she said.
Family said he died just two months away from his sixth birthday. His uncle said he was inside when it happened, just before 8 a.m. He said he heard 10 gunshots and then screaming.
“My nephew hollered out, that’s when I knew he was hit,” he said. “It sounded like firecrackers at first, then I could see the drywall poppin’ off the walls.”
The front of the home is riddled with bullet holes and Nizzel’s family and friends have been struck with fear and shock.
“This is a horribly tragic situation for a child who’s sleeping on a summer day and is shot,” said Inspector Mike Martin of the Minneapolis Police.
Sgt. Stephen McCarty said authorities received a report of a shooting at about 8:45 a.m. on the 4500 block of Bryant Ave. N.
Police say George was taken to North Memorial Hospital where he later died. Officers say he was sleeping on the couch inside the home when bullets came in from outside the home.
Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels, who represents the north side, says the home where Nizzel was killed was apparently targeted. He told WCCO’s Chad Hartman that the shooting resulted from a dispute between a few young people, one of whom was in the home where George was killed.
“There was a disagreement of some kind, some ongoing feud of some kind between two young people,” Samuels said. “One of (whom) may or may not have been a resident in the home, but was at the home at the time.”
“We are the depository for a lot of suburban people who are looking for some nice entertainment drugs. We are the depository for a lot of young drug sellers who are coming even from Chicago because the prices are good here,” Samuels said. “People of the north side are fighting an incredible battle.”
Police do not have anyone in custody at this time.
A number of people were inside the home at the time of the shooting — both kids and adults — but no one else was injured.
Police are investigating details but believe it was a gunman on foot. They say neighbors heard at least 10 shots ring out. They don’t have any details of a suspect or vehicle information to release.
Mayor R.T. Rybak said enough is enough.
“It’s an outrage,” he said. “Yeah I’m pissed off, I’m plenty pissed off. But I’m not a parent of a child who’s dead. And I think every person in this community needs to feel that pain that a family member feels when their kid dies to be able to take the extreme action it takes.”
He said the unfortunate part is that it’s a problem that begins with us.
“The sad fact of the matter is what we know about guns is that a lot of those guns are coming from this state,” he said. “This is a homegrown problem.”
It was on this day, six months ago, that a stray bullet came into 3-year-old Terrell Mayes Jr.’s north Minneapolis home, killing him while he was going upstairs.
Mayes’ mother, Marsha Mayes, appeared at the home this morning to comfort the family and ask for these types of tragedies to stop.
“This is ridiculous,” she said. “It’s totally ridiculous. Kids can’t even get up and eat cereal or come outside and play no more. Whoever is doing this killing, you need to stop. Y’all are taking our kids, y’all not giving them their futures.”
Marsha Mayes Speaks Out
Samuels agreed and said the community needs to be active in making this kind of crime stop.
“We got to call 911; we got to call 311; we got to call each other; we got to form a phone tree; we got to reach out to the kids passing by,” he said. “And we’re going to tell the bad guys to go somewhere else because we don’t tolerate this order here.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said it’s an issue that everyone needs to care about.
“It seems like the larger public really doesn’t care what happens in the inner city,” he said. “It’s a population they don’t care about.”
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)