DOJ launches investigation into Minneapolis policing practices
Former assistant US attorney Alex Little weighs in on ‘FOX News Live’
Grappling with a shortage of officers and increased crime, Minneapolis is seeking federal and state resources after the latest bout of violence in the city included a mass shooting that left a college student dead hours before his graduation Saturday.
Amid the increased violence in the city where George Floyd was killed nearly one year ago, officials also announced a $30,000 reward this weekend in the hunt for suspects responsible for the separate shootings of three children over the past several weeks, including one 9-year-old girl killed by stray gunfire while jumping on a backyard trampoline.
During the early Saturday mass shooting, two people were killed and another eight wounded after gunshots rang out just before 2 a.m. outside in the 300 block of N 1st Ave. Investigators say two men got into an argument and began firing amid a crowd gathered on the sidewalk near Monarch nightclub.
One of the suspected gunmen was killed along with the college student. Another suspected shooter, a 23-year-old man, was arrested by Bloomington police Saturday afternoon and booked for probable cause murder in Hennepin County Jail, Fox 9 Minneapolis reported.
The second fatality was University of St. Thomas student Charlie Johnson, who family say was an innocent bystander and had gone out with friends to celebrate their graduation the next day.
His father, Greg Johnson, asked people to say his son’s name in the fight to end gun violence. He said Charlie, who was graduating with a mechanical engineering degree, “left a beautiful impact on every single life he touched.”
“No politics please,” Johnson wrote on Facebook, “just love and compassion for each other as Charlie had for all of us. I AM CHARLIE!”
Speaking at a press conference Sunday, Mayor Jacob Frey said he requested mutual aid assistance from a number of different jurisdictions to help address the recent violence seen in the city. He said state troopers have been providing assistance from Saturday evening into Sunday morning and the Minneapolis Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is aiding the investigation.
Nearly 200 Minneapolis police officers have left the force in the wake of the death of Floyd, with many filing post-traumatic stress claims due to the civil unrest that followed. Minneapolis has seen at least 31 homicides this year, not including this weekend’s violence.
Separate from the mass shooting, a car crash victim was found also suffering from gunshot wounds when police responded to the scene; he later died from his injuries. In another incident, as bystanders rushed a gunshot victim to the hospital, a car flipped and the medical examiner is still working to determine which injuries caused that man’s death.
“Safety in our city has to be a priority,” Frey said Sunday, calling law enforcement reinforcements “really, really critical.”
Frey acknowledged that resources have had to been diverted to respond to 911 calls and has been working with City Hall on a proposal on how to build back up the police force. This, as negotiations continue on how the American Rescue Plan funding will be allocated, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
At City Hall on Sunday, officials announced a $30,000 reward for information that leads to arrests in connection to the separate shootings of three children in Minneapolis’ North Side. Trinity Ottoson-Smith, 9, was fatally shot while jumping on a trampoline in her backyard earlier this month. Ladavionne Garrett Jr., 10, and Aniya Allen, 6, both were hospitalized after being shot in separate incidents in Minneapolis over the past two weeks.
The fund created by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber offers $10,000 for information in each case, KARE reported.
“We need more police officers. There is no doubt in my mind,” Smith’s grandfather, Randy Ottoson, told the Tribune, stressing that police reform is necessary, because Black lives matter, but that shouldn’t mean less officers patrolling local communities. “I’m praying for all of these families but, you know what, I’m praying for the next people too.”
Several events are scheduled in Minneapolis this week to coincide with the first anniversary of Floyd’s death. Aniya Allen’s grandfather, K.G. Wilson, who is also a community activist, pointed out that large crowds of demonstrators have often come from out of town and shut down roadways over the past year since Floyd’s death – but similar protests have not come since in response to the deaths of these three children.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said federal agencies are also assisting investigations.
“These perpetrators who continue to harm our angels need to turn themselves in,” Arradondo said. “I will work diligently, and my men and women will continue to rush into harm’s way to continue to keep our communities safe and deal with the condition of violence. But we have a condition of heart.”
The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) had already been called in last week to assist the Minneapolis Police Department with their investigations into the three separate incidents where the children were shot, KTSP reported.
Minneapolis police has seven homicide detectives working the mass shooting case, while the city’s Office of Violence Prevention sent a “very small group,” including director Sasha Cotton, to work with families and bystanders, city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie told the Tribune.
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