By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There are more unsolved crimes in Minneapolis right now compared to each of the previous four years.

They range from property to violent crimes. Arrests have yet to be made in the high-profile shootings of three children since April, which killed two of them.

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WCCO’s Jennifer Mayerle heard the frustration from families left behind, and got to the heart of what’s driving crimes to go unsolved.

KG Wilson is determined to help find his granddaughter’s killer. A stray bullet struck 6-year-old Aniya Allen in the head, while riding home from McDonalds in north Minneapolis in May.

“It went from sad emotions to anger. Every day waking up and seeing that there’s still no justice,” Wilson said.

Days later Trinity Ottoson-Smith was shot while jumping on a trampoline with friends about a mile away.

Her dad Raishawn Smith thinks of his caring, considerate 9-year-old, yet grapples with his grief.

“I’ve had a lot of people tell me they don’t know how I do it. To be honest with you, I don’t know how I do it,” Smith said.

These are just two of thousands of unsolved cases in Minneapolis. WCCO asked University of St. Thomas professor Manjeet Rege to look at data to better understand what’s going on.

“Looking at the numbers it tells you a trend, and perhaps a strong trend,” Rege said.

The Chair of Software and Data Science examined crime and arrest data in the city over the last five years.

“Rate of arrests have gone down. So overall there are some crimes where unsolved cases were high, and certain categories it has even become worse,” Rege said.

Data shows there are more homicides so far this year, than the full years of 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Rege explains the overall arrest rate at the start of August was about 12% this year, compared to 15- to- 28% in the previous four years. That means roughly 88% of crimes are going unsolved.

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“My job is to highlight something which could be a matter of concern for authorities,” Rege said.

“It’s hard to solve a crime, yeah, on television it looks so easy,” Mylan Masson, a former officer and director of the law enforcement program for the state, said. “They have to be darn sure because they have to have probable cause, they have to have all the evidence in straight lines.”

She says there are reasons why fewer cases are being solved right now in Minneapolis.

“There’s a lack of people working, a lack of people being able to do what they need to do. If I make this arrest, how much is it going to cost me to my profession,” Masson said.

Masson says in some cases, criminals may have fled the area, in others, it may take someone speaking up to get a break in a case.

“The community knows what’s going on, their own family, Then you have to remember if I know something, maybe something is going to happen to me, or to my family, especially in a gang situation, they don’t care,” Masson said.

And when it comes to stray bullets, she says it’s that much tougher to gather evidence and build a case.

“When it’s outside and it’s so random, it’s very, very difficult if all you have maybe a bullet casing, if you have that,” Masson said.

“Nobody’s seen anything, it’s hard for me to digest. So I know somebody knows,” Smith said.

These families hope someone will be brave enough to come forward.

“I’m stuck, I can’t move on. I beg of them to be the ones to save somebody else’s life,” Wilson said.

There is a $180,000 reward for information about the children’s shooters. You can make an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

WCCO wanted to talk with Minneapolis police for this story. The department told us investigators don’t have time given their current case load. The department did say the homicide unit has 12 trained and dedicated individuals, who have been assigned to the 61 homicides. They’re also working abduction and missing person cases, suicides and drug overdoses.

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Click here to take a closer look at the arrest data.

Jennifer Mayerle