On Night Out, Minneapolis records year's 32nd homicideby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — Minneapolis police are investigating the city's 32nd homicide of the year.
Police officials say officers responded to a shots fired call in north Minneapolis just before 7 p.m. Tuesday night and found the body of an adult man.
The killing took place Tuesday night as people across the city gathered for National Night Out, the annual event designed to help prevent crime.
This year's National Night Out celebration began with more than 1,100 gatherings across the city.
Many gatherings consisted of about two dozen neighbors sitting at a folding table in the middle of the street. At one party on the city's north side, the houses facing the street all have carefully tended lawns. One house at the end of the block is boarded, and there is one 'for sale' sign in the front of another.
But there are no visible signs that the block sits in a section of the city that has seen more than its fair share of crime. Then you notice several lawn signs that say 'We Watch. We Call.'
Block club leader Dawn Hunter said the signs are a deterrent to would be criminals.
"It sends a message when they're coming through that our neighbors are prepared to call the police if we see any suspicious activity going on. And that our neighborhood is united and we stand together against crime," she said.
Hunter says she got the signs from the neighborhood association. The signs have become popular and have sprung up all over the city. But Hunter and her neighbors do more than post signs, they follow through with action. She says about five years ago, the block experienced a rash of car break-ins.
"We got together and had our little patrol together, the neighbors patrolled and we caught about eight of them -- in the act," she said. "They were arrested. As far as if they got convicted for anything -- I'm not sure how that worked out, but we did get them off our block at that time."
As the night gets older, a few more neighbors show up and sit down at the table in the middle of the street. They eat hot dogs, hamburgers and sweet corn cooked on a grill. They talk about the muggy weather and share stories about some nearby problem properties.
But then the mood is briefly interrupted. A police car with its siren on streak by. A neighbors quips, "Uh, oh, that's going to be on the news." She was right.
About a mile away, a young woman buries her head in her friend's shoulder. The friend says the young woman's boyfriend has just been killed. Fourth Precinct inspector Mike Martin says there was some altercation that led to the shooting, but police are still investigating.
"Obviously, it's very tragic that this occurred on a night when we're celebrating the successes we've had and working with the community to reduce crime. This is what National Night Out actually is about is preventing incidents like this."
Martin says officers detained a few people leaving the scene. But he says the police don't know what, if any, connection they may have to the deceased man. Martin says investigators are looking for help in identifying the shooter.
"We're hoping that more people saw things. It's a nice night. A lot of people are outside," said Martin. "We believe there were several dozen people out in the area at the time this occurred, so we're hoping that we'll get more people who will come forward."
- Morning Edition, 08/04/2010, 7:47 a.m.