UPDATE: Less than an hour after this story was initially published, another child was shot in Minneapolis. Local activist Kay G. Wilson identified the victim as his 6-year-old granddaughter, Aniya.
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two children are fighting for their lives after both were seriously injured by gunfire wounds to their heads just two weeks apart in north Minneapolis.READ MORE: Minnesota Weather: Father's Day Forecast Features Afternoon Storms
They are two of 19 children injured by gunfire this year in Minneapolis. Gun violence is skyrocketing in the city. There’s been nearly a 150% increase in gunshot victims compared to this time last year.
A prayer vigil was held Monday for two families, both hoping for miracles, that their children survive being shot in the head. There is pressure to find a way to stop this senseless cycle of violence.
Their rooms are side by side at North Memorial Health hospital Monday in Robbinsdale. Their fathers embraced each other outside the hospital Monday.
“She’s fighting,” said Raishawn Smith, Trinity’s father. “She feels all of you here.”
He spoke to a crowded vigil, held nightly at the hospital for Trinity and Ladavionne.
“I prayed for that little girl, and I got her,” Smith said. “I got her. I can’t lose her. I can’t lose her. I can’t lose her. I can’t.”
Ladavionne Garrett, Ladavionne Jr.’s father, says he’s never prayed this much in his life.
“Look at my son now,” Garrett said. “That’s all he need. We’re going to get through this, we got God. That’s it.”
Earlier in the day, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey laid out a comprehensive plan for community safety. Ladavionne Jr.’s grandmother, Sharrie Jennings, spoke angrily during the press conference.
“It’s two kids at North Memorial right now fighting for they life from a gunshot wound to the head,” Jennings said. “When is north Minneapolis gonna stand up? When is enough enough?”READ MORE: Man Killed In 'Random' Shooting In St. Cloud, Police Say
She didn’t mince words in telling Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo that their plan to stop gun violence needs to bring results.
“I hope y’all step up, because if not, this going to be a deadly summer,” Jennings said. “This going to be a deadly summer of kids, of kids! Our kids ain’t safe now.”
A Mother’s Love founder Lisa Clemons is wondering where is the outrage, that 16 days after Ladavionne was shot in the head, another family is dealing with the same thing.
“We have to make this the priority. The police department is a fight that we should take on and it should continue, but this is the priority. Saving lives in our community is the priority,” Clemons said.
The leaders at Monday’s press conference want to know what elected officials are doing to keep people safe. Minneapolis City Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison represents the Ward 5, where both Trinity and Ladavionne were shot.
“I have to make sure that I’m doing everything I can to keep people safe, but I also have to make sure that the system that keeps people safe has integrity and works,” Ellison said.
The latest violence has hit Ellison’s ward hard. He believes the city has what it takes to stop the violence.
“We’ve got the Office of Violence Prevention that can identify where these problem areas are and who the individuals who have the highest likelihood to commit violence are. We have a police department that can’t handle this issue on its own, but needs to play a pivotal role in solving this problem,” he said.
A problem that won’t go away until issues within the community and criminal justice system change.
“You have created a revolving door in your criminal justice system that keeps putting these people right back out in our community with these guns,” Clemson said.
The philosophy behind Mayor Frey’s safety plan is to have law enforcement and community-driven approaches working simultaneously. It prioritizes increasing MPD staffing levels by about 200 officers by 2023, and bringing in agents from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the federal government to help. It also calls for more funding of violence prevention groups, and expanding non-police response to mental health and non-emergency calls.MORE NEWS: Fights Follow Teen's Shooting In St. Cloud Parking Ramp Overnight
Click here to read the full proposal. https://www.minneapolismn.gov/media/-www-content-assets/documents/Minneapolis-Model-for-Community-Safety-and-Accountability.pdf