The number of shootings in Minneapolis involving fully-automatic gunfire is up 338% from 2021, according to data provided to Bring Me The News.
There have been 171 ShotSpotter activations detecting fully-automatic gunfire in Minneapolis through July 25, according to data from the Minneapolis Police Department. Those 171 shootings fired off 1,799 bullets.
ShotSpotter detected only 39 fully-automatic incidents during the same time frame last year and there were none through the same date in 2020, when the first fully-automatic ShotSpotter activation didn't come until mid-August.
The latest incident happened at 9:23 p.m. Thursday near N. 1st Ave. and N. 4th St. in downtown Minneapolis, with Minneapolis police saying officers were responding to a report of "people with guns in the parking lot near the intersection" when shots were fired, including the "sound of fully automatic gunfire."
Police believe some shots came from a stolen SUV that was driving through the area, which eventually crashed and the people in it fled. Four men wound up being arrested including one who allegedly punched a cop in the face, causing minor injuries.
It was the fourth time in three days that MPD documented fully-automatic gunfire, and it happened as a crowd gathered for a vigil from a homicide that took place in the area earlier Thursday – that too involved a fully-automatic weapon.
On Wednesday night a 14-year-old boy was shot in the face, with 911 callers reporting the sound of fully-automatic weapons.
“As more bullets are being fired from guns, it just makes the chance that other people, even innocent bystanders, are going to be struck,” Minneapolis police spokesperson Garrett Parten said Thursday.
On Tuesday, homes and the 4th Precinct were struck by bullets. Again, the gun was equipped with an auto sear, which turns the firearm into a fully-automatic weapon.
Fully-automatic weapons are effectively machine guns, which have "become a huge problem in the Twin Cities," says Ashlee Sherrill, public information officer at the St. Paul Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The ATF has brought in additional agents to focus on getting small devices known as auto sears off the streets. An auto sear converts a semi-automatic gun into a fully-automatic weapon, and they can be purchased on the black market for low cost, shipped from other countries and even 3D printed.
Auto sears are banned at the local, state and federal levels. Cops can't even use them.
"We need the communities’ help in addressing this issue," Sherill told Bring Me The News. "If anyone is aware of someone in possession of an auto sear conversion device or know who may be selling or manufacturing them, please contact ATF or your local police/sheriff."
Tips can be provided by calling 1-888-283-8477 or emailing ATFTips@atf.gov.
Under Minnesota law, anyone in possession of a gun with fully-automatic capability, (a machine gun, trigger activator or machine gun conversion kit) can be sent to prison for up to five years along with a fine up to $10,000.
Note: ShotSpotter has been in Minneapolis for 15 years and uses smart technology to trace gunshot locations and the type of rounds fired. The tech uses acoustic sensors that send geographic data to law enforcement.