Police quell fight as mourners grieve at vigil for slain teen

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Police used chemical spray to promptly end a fight that broke out at a Wednesday night vigil in north Minneapolis, where hundreds gathered to grieve a slain teen – many calling for an end to violence.

The Star Tribune reports that two young women fought, and an officer sprayed an irritant above the fracas in an effort to prevent it from spreading. “You want to give them a safe environment to grieve,” an officer told the newspaper. “That’s the whole point of us being here.”

WCCO called it a "melee," noting that the fight interrupted the fundraising effort of the group Mad Dads, which had been collecting money to help the family with funeral expenses.

“Need to get a grip on the kids, because senseless stuff like this shouldn’t happen,” said Randy Donnerson, father of the slain 17-year-old Nehemiah Steverson, who friends say was a popular student at Edison High School.

Police found the teen in the grass with a gunshot wound to his stomach shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday, and he was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died.

No one has been arrested; police suspect the shooting was gang-related. Police ask anyone with information about the case to call a tip line at 612-692-8477.

Nehemiah's mother, Angela Steverson, decried the deaths of young black men who have been killed by guns.

"In the Bible, Nehemiah went into the broken and ruined cities, and he built them back up, and that's kind of what he did in my life, was build it back up," she said, KSTP reported.

Donations for the family's funeral expenses can be made at any BMO Harris Bank under the account "MAD DADS F.B.O. Nehemiah."

Minneapolis in 2013 recorded 36 homicides, down from 40 in 2012 (the city also had three killings determined to have been justifiable homicides), MPR News reported.

For comparison, Minneapolis (46th largest city by population) ranked way below the cities with the most homicides in 2013, according to a Daily Beast list:

1. Chicago, 412 homicides
2. New York, 333
3. Detroit, 332
4. Los Angeles, 255
5. Philadelphia, 246
6. Baltimore, 234
7. Houston, 201
8. New Orleans, 155
9. Memphis, 150
10. Dallas, 137

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