Police crime lab technician investigates the area where three people were shot in the early evening hours on Aug. 20 in Minneapolis.
Photo credit: AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Richard Tsong-Taatarii
As neighbors talked and children played Tuesday, a string of gunfire shattered the hot summer night in north Minneapolis, wounding a 14-month old girl, a 19-year-old pregnant woman and a 17-year-old boy.
All three were being treated Tuesday night at nearby hospitals for injuries that weren't life-threatening while police searched for a man who had approached a group of people as they stood around a parked car, fired repeatedly and then ran. As police scoured the area for shell casings, interviewed witnesses and knocked on doors, some residents gathered on street corners outside the yellow police crime tape. Others sat on front porches watching and waiting for news.
For those new to the 2900 block of Lyndale Avenue N., the sound of shots on the street was almost too frightening to comprehend. For some longtime residents, the crackle of gunfire was all too familiar.
But for all of them, the idea that a toddler had been shot seemed incomprehensible.
Jamil Jackson heard the gunshots from the nearby Farview Park football field as he coached a team of 8- to 14-year-olds. "I'm not sure the kids knew, but I did. The first thing I did was look up to see if anyone was running and what direction so I would know to take my kids in the opposite direction."
Unfortunately, he said, it was a familiar response. "Where I live, it's pretty common to hear gunshot in the evenings. ... I love my community, but I tell my kids to leave. I don't want my kids around this."
As two of his young players stood near him on the street outside the yellow police tape, Jackson talked about the warnings he often gives to the kids he coaches. "I tell them to be mindful. Be watchful. If they see a group gathering, go the other way. These are survivor techniques of living in this community."
But that shouldn't be something kids have to learn, others said Tuesday.
"It's sick that [shots fired] has become normal to some," City Council Member Don Samuels said. "It's just a matter of time. It's a game of the odds. ... It's totally unacceptable ... I find it so odious that this is what life has become that a 14-month-old baby can be shot. ... That's a bizarre reality. It's very sick. It just breaks my heart."
Ali Amin and his 15-year-old son, Shukri Issak, stood on their porch, watched as police gathered evidence, trying to understand the evening's events in a neighborhood they moved into in July. They previously lived in Utah.
"My mom and sister were just about to go to walk to the store down the street when they heard the gunshots," Issak said. "Everyone got down on the ground."
"There are 12 people in our house," Issak said, including his mother, seven brothers and sisters, his great-grandmother and uncle. When Amin looked out on the street, neighbors ran into their homes and police converged on their block.
"We're scared. We never heard gunshots but on TV," Amin said. "The gun is very bad."
But his next-door neighbor, who would give only her first name, Colleen, seemed almost resigned to the frequent sound of gunfire.
"What can you do?" she asked, not really expecting an answer as she sat on her front stoop. "It bothers me but what can you do?"
Police urged neighborhood residents to report any information about the shootings to 612-692-8477. Additional squad cars were expected to patrol the neighborhood throughout the night and officers were going door to door in search of information, said Cyndi Barrington, a police spokeswoman.
"There are a lot of unknowns at this time," she said. "So it's going to take time to put it together."
Although none of the injuries was life-threatening, "any shooting is serious, especially when it involves a child," Police Lt. Chris Granger said. The baby, who was shot in the shoulder, and the teen, who was shot in the leg, were taken to North Memorial Hospital. The pregnant woman, who was shot in a leg, was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center.
Police said they didn't know how the victims are related or whether they knew the shooter.
Barrington said investigators recovered multiple shell casings but she wasn't sure on the exact number. "Should the public be concerned? This is serious," she said. "You've got three victims that were shot in broad daylight, and it's a high priority for the police department."
Copyright 2013 - Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
McClatchy-Tribune News Service