MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis Police Lt. Jeff Rugel, the head of a five-person gang squad, offered insight into gang violence Monday following two shootings downtown that left six people injured.
“Shootings are up. Murders are not,” Rugel said. “So, when it comes to gang violence, we are seeing an increase in retaliatory violence. In many cases, they are not even trying to kill each other. They are shooting for other reasons.”
Police believe a small number of teenagers and young men are responsible for most of the violence.
Rugel said there are about 20 to 25 gangs in operation in the city.
Years ago, a large number of people came from other states and created trouble, but now most of the gang members are from Minnesota, products of a violent upbringing.
“Our police reporting system has some of these kids back to when they were infants…they were present when their mom was getting beat up by a boyfriend or when their home was being raided,” he said.
As far as getting information from gang members following a shooting, Rugel said the shooters know they are going to get away with it because no one from the rival gang is going to work with police.
The lieutenant’s biggest concern is the safety of the general public.
“It’s one thing if they are shooting at each other, but enough of these bullets fly and they hit cars and houses, and that’s why we need to stop the shooting, because of the risk to innocent people,” he said.
Rugel also said the gang activity has changed a lot over the years. Where once they would spray paint graffiti on walls as a show of disrespect, now they use social media to intimidate and insult one another.