MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two gang members are going to prison for a long time after pleading guilty to a string of crimes against rivals.
Back in August 2014, surveillance video captured a foot chase between the two gangs that ended in a hail of bullets outside Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) in downtown Minneapolis.
The guilty pleas involve two of the estimated 50 to 60 gangs currently active in Minneapolis. Many of them are small, splinter gangs, but nonetheless capable of deadly violence.
Tensions hit the streets of south Minneapolis in the summer of 2014 when two rival gangs — the Bloods and 10’s — engaged in a running gun battle for control of their drug trade.
“Starting August 19, 2014, [Percy] Lacey — a 10’s — shot a Blood walking down 37th Street near Chicago Avenue,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said.
A week later, Vysean Johnson shot another member of the Bloods. Now, both he and Lacey are headed to prison for attempted murder.
“The scene then turned to the Hennepin County Government Center, when a number of Bloods showed up looking for their enemy, member of the 10’s, Lacey,” Freeman said.
Security cameras show those gang members looking for Lacey’s courtroom. Instead, he bolts from the building and they give chase but never catch him.
Thirty minutes later, Lacey and Johnson heard that rival Bloods were visiting one of theirs at HCMC who’d just just been shot by Johnson. Saying his pride was hurt from the earlier foot chase, Lacey fired 23 shots after Johnson told him to “air ’em out.”
“Ongoing back and forth gang violence doesn’t respect neighborhood borders, doesn’t respect city borders, because it’s a problem for everybody,” Minneapolis Police Commander Erick Fors said.
Miraculously, nobody was shot, but staff and bystanders had to dive for cover. Freeman credits Minneapolis police with diffusing other gang retaliations and threats.
Sadly, authorities say getting two gang members off the streets will create a void that will be quickly filled. In retaliation for the HCMC shooting about a month later, Johnson was hit and paralyzed by gunfire. Nobody’s been caught in that attack.
Authorities say they have good evidence that social media — like Facebook and Twitter — is driving a lot of the increase in gang rivalry. That’s how they deliver their threats.
In once recent case, police were able to arrest three gang members out on parole. The young men were holding up guns in the photo threatening another gang — all of them felons who are banned from having firearms.