MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Police now believe two early morning shootings in downtown Minneapolis that injured six people are connected.
Assaults, robberies and running gun battles, most taking place right here near the downtown police precinct building. Monday, police and city leaders spoke about the problem and possible solutions.
“This began with a fight on Fifth and Hennepin and they were live streaming the altercation,” Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau said.
Harteau says social media alerted others to come downtown. One man arrived in a vehicle, found a group of people and began shooting. That was near First and Third. Minutes later, more gunshots. Four others were hit.
Five adults and one juvenile were injured. Harteau says the adults involved have 110 interactions with police “for things like assault, robbery and weapons.”
Police recovered two guns and arrested one person.
“We have an issue right now with violent crime and shootings in the city as a whole, but specifically in areas like the Warehouse District as well as north Minneapolis, and I think collectively we as a community need to acknowledge it,” City Council member Jacob Frey said.
Monday, Mayor Betsy Hodges acknowledged the problem and laid out a plan. She said that gun violence is unacceptable in the city and that she’s “sick of it.”
“This is not who we are as a city,” Hodges told reporters. “Gun violence anywhere in this city is unacceptable—it’s unacceptable on the north side and it is unacceptable downtown.”
Later this year, she says her Group Violence Intervention initiative will address the small number of repeat offenders she believes are driving the violence. Funding for it, she said, would come from the Justice Department and the 2017 city budget.
“It will call in the offenders who are at highest risk of perpetrating violence, offer them every resource they need to redirect their lives productively and hold them accountable if they do not,” Hodges said.
Hodges also hopes to increase MPD’s authorized strength by 15 officers. The mayor also said that 60 new police officers are in training and will be on the streets by year’s end. These new officers will be focused on community relations initiatives, among other things.
The violence on Monday morning was gang-related, investigators say. While the murder of numbers in the city is down this year, the number of shootings has risen.
“We are seeing an increase in retaliatory violence,” said Lt. Jeff Rugel, of the Minneapolis Police Department’s gang squad. “In many cases, they are not even trying to kill each other. They are shooting for other reasons.”
Government, business and police hope by working together they can curb the violence.
The city is working on other plans to deal with moving people and vehicles thru downtown more effectively after bar closing.
Business owners we spoke with say something needs to be done quickly.