MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Police say investigators are making “promising strides” in their investigation into the shooting of two toddlers in Minneapolis, but have made no arrests.
Two-year-old Le’Vonte Jones died Friday. He and his 15-month-old sister were shot around 11:30 that morning at Lowry and Penn Avenues North. The kids were in a white minivan, caught on surveillance video.
When that gunfire erupted Friday morning, a group of kids playing at a nearby park were forced to take cover. On Monday morning, the principal at Lucy Craft Laney School gave those kids and her summer school students a chance to express their feelings about the fatal shooting. She wanted to help them process what happened.
“Unfortunately, tragedy is not new to us,” Principal Mauri Melander said. “But one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t ignore it, and you can’t start to act like it’s normal.”
So they didn’t. The 5, 6 and 7-year-olds walked in silence down Penn Avenue, to the corner where a toddler was fatally shot.
“I think one of the things that struck me today with the kids is how quiet they were. I told them this morning that I wanted them to be very quiet when they come down. We talk about that sometimes — silence is a sign of respect,” Principal Melander said. “I think what happens with children is that they hear snippets of things that happen all around them, but no one really gives them space to organize their thoughts and ground their thoughts.”
They left cards with handwritten notes and colorful artwork expressing their sorrow.
“So many of my kids want to be teachers. They want to be police officers, they want to be artists, they want to be hairdressers. They have all these hopes and all these dreams and every time something like this happens, it kills a hope and a dream in a child,” Principal Melander said. “So we have to immediately flip the script. That’s not okay. That’s not normal. We are going to go right there where it happened and make sure everybody sees that we are not okay with this.”
Principal Melander wants her students to remain optimistic about life, even when they are confronted with tragedy.
“A lot of times what I notice about children is that they just need to speak it and say it and be heard, and then they are ready to move on,” Principal Melander said. “But they just don’t have the space to speak it and say it all the time.”
Again, Minneapolis police say no arrests have been made so far, but they are making progress in the investigation. The family of the victim is asking community members who know something about the shooting, to say something.