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Minneapolis police chief responds to recent gun deaths

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After another spate of gun violence in the Twin Cities in recent days, Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau said she is looking at new strategies to try to get guns out of the hands of violent criminals.

Three people were shot and killed in Minneapolis within the space of three days last week, bringing the total number of homicides in the city to 37 so far this year. There were 32 in all of last year, according to WCCO.

Those numbers are still far lower than those from the mid-1990s, when the city acquired the dubious nickname of "Murder-apolis." But still, the upward trend is troubling.

“What you’re seeing now is those who were convicted with the early gang wars — their kids are now coming up," Harteau said in an interview with WCCO. "These folks are coming out of prison, so we are having those two worlds collide.”

Harteau said one focus of hers is to keep guns out of the hands of previously convicted violent criminals. Another priority is to reduce gang-related shootings.

Harteau said she is putting together a new unit that will investigate gun crimes to see how they might be connected, with an eye toward preventing retaliatory shootings, according to WCCO.

Recent shootings

- Authorities have identified the victim of one of the shootings as 16-year-old Tyrone Rice Jr. of Minneapolis. He died Friday, one day after he was shot in the head while sitting in a parked car at Lyndale Avenue North near 27th Avenue North, according to MPR News.

Police say three other people were in the car, including an infant sitting in a car seat, at the time of the shooting. No one is in custody.

- A suspect has been arrested in the shooting death of a woman at a south Minneapolis bus stop on Tuesday.

A 50-year-old man was taken into custody Saturday for allegedly shooting Jessica Denise St. Marie, 28, of Wadena, at a bus shelter at Park Avenue and East Lake Street on Tuesday.

- Elija Doentae Larkin, 19, of Minneapolis, was killed outside New Bethel Baptist Church in north Minneapolis Wednesday evening, about 24 hours after St. Marie’s death in south Minneapolis.

And in St. Paul, police have been investigating two killings in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood in the space of 24 hours:

- Synika George James, 37, was killed in an alley on the 900 block of Reaney Ave. Wednesday evening.

- This was followed Thursday by a shooting a few blocks away, which led to the death of 24-year-old Emmett L. Wilson-Shaw. The two killings are not thought to be connected.

Harteau has been nominated for a second three-year term as police chief, pending approval by the Minneapolis City Council.

Harteau last week joined a new national coalition begun by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords to protect women from gun violence.

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