Minneapolis police say Uptown still safe despite shootingby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis police are asking for the public's help in catching suspects in a fatal shooting that happened this weekend in the Uptown area. Police say Michael Zebuhr, 25, was shot during a robbery on Saturday evening and died Monday night. Robberies in Uptown have been on the rise, as in the rest of the city. But they say homicides there are rare. Some who live in the area say they are shocked and saddened by the shooting, but say they hope it will help bring neighbors closer together.
St. Paul, Minn. — Police say on Saturday night at about 9:45, Michael Zebuhr was walking with his mother and sister down Girard Avenue, just down the street from the Calhoun Square parking ramp. Two men approached and demanded Zebuhr's mother's purse. Police say the woman gave up her purse without resistance. Then they shot her son in the head.
"This is just an unspeakable act, an unspeakable tragedy," said Police Chief William McManus, struggling to find the words to describe his reaction to the crime,"that unfortunately occurred in front of his mother and sister. It's bad enough in its self, but to have that accompany that is unspeakable."
Police say following the shooting, the two suspects described only as black males wearing dark clothing, fled in a white, four-door vehicle. Homicide detective Lee Edwards says investigators don't want to release any more details on the suspects's description. Edwards says the department is aggressively pursuing the case.
"So around the clock, since the tragic incident occurred we've probably had upwards of 15 people working on this case. And like the chief said, we're going to assure you that we're doing everything as possible in our power to bring this to a successful conclusion," he said.
Edwards called the shooting "an aberration." Violent crimes such as assaults and shootings have been more prevalent on the city's north side. In fact eight of the city's 12 homicides have occured in north Minneapolis and the majority of the victims are African American.
City Councilmember Ralph Remington, who represents the ward where the shooting occurred, and says he doesn't live far from the scene of the crime. He was asked if he thought people who live on the north side might feel that the level of attention from the police and the media to this crime is disproportionately more intense because it happened to a white person in a predominantly white and affluent neighborhood.
"Well, I'm an African American man, as you can see that. And I think that black life is as important as white life. And I think where black people live is as important as where white people live. And I think any murder is wrong anywhere. And I think we are all in agreement on that," he said.
Uptown is a bustling commercial section of town. It's home to a multitude of bars and restaurants, shops and movie theaters all close enough to walk to. However Remington says that doesn't mean that it makes crime here any more noteworthy than anywhere else.
"Whenever crime happens anywhere, it matters to us. And on the City Council I'm going to make sure of that," he said.
Remington says he's interested in increasing the amount of lighting on the side streets where a lot of visitors to the area park. He also says he'd like to get more businesses that own surface lots make their spaces open to visitors to Uptown so they don't have to walk as far to get to their cars.
Some residents of the area say they are shocked and saddened by the crime.
"It's such a terrible, tragic event," said Christy Devens, the crime and safety coordinator with the Calhoun Area Residents Action Group --CARAG. She's lived in the neighborhood for six years and says the area is generally safe. Devens says for the most part crime in her neighborhood has been mostly property crimes like thefts from cars or garages.
But she says over the last year there have been more robberies and home burglaries. And Devens says the shooting has motivated more residents to get involved with neighborhood safety issues, including forming a foot patrol.
"The group is called the CARAG Stroll Patrol and it's really just getting started and we were just going to schedule our first patrol for next month, but there has just been - since this tragic incident this weekend been a lot of neighbors who have come forward wanting to participate in the group and get it started sooner," she said.
Police are asking people with possible information on the shooting to call their TIPS line.