ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The mass shooting in St. Paul only adds to the historic levels of innocent victims of violence this year across the Twin Cities.
From three kids under the age of 10, a college student caught in the crossfire leaving a downtown club and two teens hit by bullets watching street racing — they are just a few of the innocent people to be struck by stray bullets this year.
The community is paying a personal price for the random violence.
Three days after a gun fight between SUV’s ended with a crash that killed an 18-year-old on a scooter, a 27-year-old innocent bystander in a bar was struck by a bullet barely 10 miles away in St. Paul.
Kentral Galloway is the program manager of Next Step, a violence intervention program that meets surviving victims at Hennepin Healthcare, Abbot and North Memorial hospitals.
“There’s a lot of folk just getting caught in the crossfire,” Galloway said.
A few years ago, the group helped a few victims a week. His team is now connecting with two a day.
“That’s the other sad part, we’ve normalized this now,” he added.
Eighty-nine people have sought outreach from Next Step just this year.
“The job of my people is to help people socially, emotionally and mentally,” Galloway said. “The medical team does the rest of the work.”
He’s tracked a noticeable climb in the number of female and innocent victims, forced to live with feelings of paranoia and ongoing trauma.
“It really does change how they go about their daily routine, and it’s going to stay with them the rest of their lives,” he said.
Jessica DeWeerth is with Minnesota Moms Demand Action.
“Just regular nights out end in gunfire now,” DeWeerth said. “That’s something I refuse to accept for myself and I refuse to accept for my children.”
As the murder rate soared nearly 60% in the state last year, Minnesota Moms Demand Action points out that 75% of them were carried out with a gun.
The group lays out a list of public safety measures they say its past time people push forward.
“We care about it and want it to be different, but what we have to do is convince our lawmakers to care about it and for them to want it to be different,” DeWeerth said.
From proposed laws to cut down on the number of trafficked guns to better background checks, a list of safety measures from Minnesota Moms Demand Action can be found here.