Reward offered in Minneapolis shootingby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
Friends and family of a woman who was wounded by a stray bullet in Minneapolis last weekend are offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who can help authorities find the person responsible for the shooting. Theresa Schiller was hit in the left eye with a bullet fragment Saturday night while sitting in the passenger seat of a van. Doctors were forced to remove Schiller's damaged eye. Minneapolis police say the Schillers were the victims of a random crime in a part of the city that has seen an increase in violence, including shootings.
Minneapolis, Minn. — The shooting happened around 10 p.m. on Saturday near the intersection of Penn and 8th Avenues in North Minneapolis. Theresa Schiller's husband, Bob Wheeler, says they were in the area because it was near the course of the city's big cross-country ski race The City of Lakes Loppet.
Wheeler was planning to ski in the race the next morning and he was scouting the area to find a place for his wife to drop him off. He says they were stopped at the intersection when the back windshield of their van exploded.
"As soon as the back windshield went out, she grabbed her eye and said, 'I've been hit. And there's blood,'" Wheeler said.
Both Wheeler and police officials say they believe the bullet must have come through the back, riccocheted off the inside of the front windshield, shattered, and entered Schiller's left eye.
Neither Wheeler nor his wife are strangers to traumatic injuries. Wheeler is an emergency room doctor, and Schiller an emergency room nurse at Children's Hospital in St. Paul.
"This senseless act of violence has disabled a wonderful mother and wife. And a contributor to society and her work as an emergency room nurse at Children's Hospital in St. Paul," Wheeler said at a news conference.
Wheeler says he thinks Schiller should be able to continue her work as a nurse someday. Schiller's right eye seems to be working fine. He says his wife will probably need more surgery and will eventually be fitted for a prosthetic eye.
Wheeler says his wife has not expressed anger or resentment over the incident. However, the couple's young son, Royce, says he's angry and can't figure out why it happened.
"My mom's such a good lady. All she's ever done her whole life is help people. She's always wanted to be a nurse and that's all she's done, forever," he said.
The crime happened in the Near North neighborhood. Police officials say the number of aggravated assaults there -- including the shootings -- are slightly higher than they were at this time last year. But police say the majority of those crimes involve people who know each other.
Lt. David Hajhoe, with the Fourth Precinct, says Penn Avenue is a main artery through the northside and gets a lot of traffic. But he doesn't think this weekend's shooting should deter people from driving through.
"I think this is a very unfortunate incident," he said. "It's not typical of north Minneapolis. North Minneapolis is a safe place to travel through. I think people need to use basic common sense when you travel through any other area."
Parts of north Minneapolis have seen disproportionately high rates of violent crime including shootings and robberies. And Bob Wheeler says the area's reputation was in the back of his mind this weekend.
"You know, we were a little bit concerned. And in retrospect it was probably a poor decision to go through that area. But we weren't overly concerned," he said.
Police officials continue to investigate the crime and say they've found two handguns in a house near the site of the shooting. They've made no arrests. However, they say they hope the $10,000 reward offered by the family and friends of the victim will help inspire people with information on the crime to come forward.
- All Things Considered, 02/09/2006, 5:15 p.m.