Police make arrests in Uptown killingby Art Hughes, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis police have two people behind bars and are searching for three others in connection with last month's fatal shooting in the Uptown neighborhood. Charges are pending against an adult woman and a 17-year-old male. Police say they're confident the 17-year-old is the one who shot 25-year-old Michael Zebuhr during a robbery.
Minneapolis, Minn. — Police and elected officials stood stone-faced in front of reporters to both assure the public and appeal for additional tips that might complete the investigation. Minneapolis homicide commander Lee Edwards delivered a warning for those who might know something about the three suspects still at large.
"I cannot stress strongly enough that this will not get better for you if you keep harboring or hiding these people. It will not get better for you if you are one of the people we're looking for and you continue to hide," Edwards said.
Edwards and other police officials say at least one of the remaining suspects is a juvenile male wanted on a warrant for murder. Edwards won't say what role the others may have played in the crime.
"They're all associates and that's as far as we're going to go. We know who they are and what's most important is that the members of the media and the members of the community put additional pressures on these people to voluntarily come forward," he said.
Police won't identify the juvenile in custody unless he's charged as an adult. Minnesota Public Radio News also does not name suspects until they are charged. Police say the adult female in custody aided and abetted the suspects. City council member Ralph Remington praised the police work that corralled the suspects and joined the call to bring the manhunt to an end.
"It's a happy day because we've got some of the people that perpetrated this crime. But the people still at large. We need to get them," Remington said.
Previously, police had said two black males were involved in the shooting in a vacant lot in the bustling retail and high-density residential neighborhood in south Minneapolis. The area is a mix of trendy restaurants, coffee houses and upscale shops along with used clothing stores and tattoo parlors. While panhandling from mainly urban youths is prevalent and robberies are on the rise, homicides are rare.
Police say Michael Zebuhr, his mother and sister were robbed at gunpoint. Zebuhr died two days after being shot in the head. They complied with the robbers demands, but one of the robbers shot Zebuhr anyway.
Interim Police Chief Tim Dolan says the crime and the investigation have been stressful on Zebuhr's family and friends, those who live near the shooting and the police department.
"It's tough. It takes a lot of skill, it takes a lot of hard work, it takes a lot of luck, and it takes a lot of help. And luckily they all came together on this investigation," Dolan said.
Dolan says police are confident the 17-year-old now in jail is the one who pulled the trigger. After questioning from reporters police admitted they arrested the teen on an unrelated misdemeanor warrant two weeks ago and held him as long as they could. They won't say whether he was a suspect in Zebuhr's homicide at that time.
Dolan also rejected rumors that the suspects were Somali or immigrants from some other east African country.
"That never came out from us and I want to make that very clear. There were assumptions made maybe for the media and so forth but it never came from us. We never went there," he said.
The violence turned out to be the first of two recent headline-grabbing murders in Minneapolis. On Friday Alan Reitter of Minnetonka was killed by a stray bullet during a shooting downtown. Twenty-one year old Derrick Holliday was arrested and is charged with murder.
The senselessness of the crimes has rattled elected leaders who want to combat the image of Minneapolis as an increasingly violent city. But tough talk from police and elected officials at the press conference couldn't stop Gov. Tim Pawlenty from making a swipe at spending priorities in the state's largest city.
"From my vantage point, when you've got people shooting each other in the streets and you've got all that money sitting in Neighborhood Revitalization Program and some of the other things they do that aren't as high a priority, those resources should be re-deployed in my view, in the near and intermediate term, on cracking down on this violence in Minneapolis," Pawlenty said.
Pawlenty says he's considering further state intervention to quell the violence.
Mayor R.T. Rybak says he welcomes the governor's input, especially if it comes in the form of restoring some $37 million in local aid cuts over two years that resulted in a trimmer police and fire department.
"We are very interested in using that money for public safety. The governor did mention the Neighborhood Revitalization Program. He may not be aware of the fact that I as mayor, do not have control over that money that's controlled by the Joint Powers Board. But if there were a way to direct some of that money into public safety I would absolutely support that," Rybak said.
Rybak has also said there were more than 30 police officers within blocks of the recent downtown shooting--and no increase in their numbers could have prevented it.