Minneapolis police are attempting to buck the trend of increased violent crime during the warmer months by launching extra patrols in South Minneapolis following a spate of shootings.
Violent crime tends to rise once winter is over, with Minneapolis notably seeing a spike last summer, which prompted an urgent response from city police leaders who promised increased patrols in crime-plagued hotspots of the city.
The Star Tribune reports that city police are promising "a saturation" of plain-clothed and uniformed patrols in the south of the city. It comes after a rise in gun violence over the past two weeks that has been linked to a "social media-fueled dispute" between rival gangs.
The newspaper says this peaked when 17-year-old student Maurice Brown was fatally shot on 13th Avenue South last week.
There are also reports Wednesday morning of a suspected double homicide in North Minneapolis, with WCCO reporting that the bodies of two people have been found in a car at 46th and Penn.
Gun violence is less common in South Minneapolis compared to the North, but incidents in recent weeks are causing concern.
Spike in shootings in south of the city
According to Minneapolis Police Department's "Shots Fired" statistics, there were 16 shots either reported or picked up by police technology in the area from Interstate 94 and East 43rd Street, between Interstate 35W and Hiawatha, between March 31 and April 4.
Of these, two were confirmed shootings (including Brown's death).
In the week of March 24-30, there were 12 reports of shots fired, bringing the total to 28 in just under two weeks.
In the entire month between February 24 and March 23, there were 18 reports of shots fired.
Neighborhood crime statistics for south of the city show violent crime is most common in the Ventura Village, Midtown Phillips and Powderhorn Park areas, all of which saw a rise in reported violence last month compared to March 2014.
Homicide down, but aggravated assaults up
Homicides have fallen across Minneapolis so far this year compared to 2014, with four confirmed killings compared to seven at the same time in 2014 – although this could rise to six depending on investigations ongoing in the north side Wednesday.
But the jump in shootings seen in South Minneapolis in recent weeks, combined with ongoing problems in North Minneapolis, is contributing to the rise in aggravated assaults across the city, which has risen by 15 percent compared to 2014, data shows.
Figures show there have been 125 reports of aggravated assaults in the 3rd Precinct – which covers the south of the city east of I-35W – which is a rise of almost 33 percent on last year.
In the 4th Precinct covering North Minneapolis, there have been 203 reports of aggravated assault, a smaller rise of 12.78 percent.
However, overall violent crime in the 3rd Precinct is level at 253 reported incidents – due to a drop in rapes and robberies in the area.
Information provided by Minneapolis police to the FBI shows there were 32 homicides in the city in 2014, down from 40 in 2013, but rape and aggravated assaults rose by 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively.