MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — At the same time classmates of a 17-year-old shot dead gathered for a vigil, St. Paul city leaders and concerned residents were gathering Thursday night to tackle the city’s problem with gun violence.

Mayor Melvin Carter kicked off the event, telling the crowd he was there not to talk, but to listen.

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“We’ve been saying for a very long time, we need to try something different, and we find ourselves still stuck in these cycles,” Carter said.

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People were divided into small groups and given a worksheet with questions on it, like, “When and where do you feel safest in our community?”

Two high school students tell WCCO they are feeling the impact of the recent violence.

“It’s nerve racking that it’s happening just right in our own backyard,” said student Ireland Cook.

Mayor Melvin Carter at a community meeting on St. Paul gun violence (credit: CBS)

“Around my neighborhood, I’ve been hearing a bunch of police sirens,” said student Munita Taol. “It’s kind of scary to me.”

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The shootings have been hitting close to home for Sara Hejny as well.

“My son came running in and said, ‘Dad thinks he heard gun shots.’ And that’s something a 6-year-old shouldn’t have to know or understand what that even is,” said Hejny.

Da’Qwan Jones-Morris was killed just a block away from where she lives. Hejny wore a shirt with his photo and football number on it while sharing her thoughts on what needs to be done.

“There’s got to be a priority where they’re going to put the money instead of fixing roads and doing public libraries,” said Hejny. “What good is it going to do if we can’t enjoy those stuff? The money has to go and get some more officers on the street.”

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Two more meetings like the one held on Thursday are scheduled for next week, and all are welcome to attend.

Tuesday, November 12

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  • 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Rice Recreation Center
  • 1021 Marion Street
  • St. Paul, MN 55117

Saturday, November 16

  • 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Arlington Hills Community Center
  • 1200 Payne Avenue
  • St. Paul, MN 55130