Dec 9, 2021 - News

St. Paul at all-time homicide high while Minneapolis nears record

Number of homicides in Minneapolis <br>and St. Paul, by year
Data: FBI and Axios research; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

St. Paul reported a new record for annual homicides last week and Minneapolis is six shy of reaching its deadliest year.

Why it matters: The violence of 2020 has spilled into 2021 locally and nationally and it's cutting lives short and traumatizing families.

Zoom in: Police say a man stabbed and killed 27-year-old Arnell Jermel Stewart on St. Paul's East Side last Thursday, marking the 35th homicide of the year. The previous record was 34 in 1992.

  • In Minneapolis, the homicide count has reached 91 this year, according to Minneapolis Police Department data. The previous record is 96, set in 1995.

Of note: The populations of both cities have increased since the 1990s (Minneapolis by 17% and St. Paul by 13%), so both are below their 1990s peaks in terms of murder rate per capita.

  • But after two decades of declining homicides, murder — particularly by gun — has spiked in the past two years.

What they're saying: University of Minnesota criminologist Chris Uggen told MPR News’ Cathy Wurzer on Wednesday that the frayed police-community relationship after the murder of George Floyd is partly to blame for the rise, as well as the effects of COVID.

  • Crime overall is down, but there's a rise in high-risk, low-reward crime, like carjackings, he said.
  • "This cohort of young people is exceptionally law-abiding," he said. "People in their teens and 20s are not particularly crime prone, but with the exception ... [of] youth who I think have been abandoned during the pandemic [because of] a strain on our institutions, especially schools."

Between the lines: Almost eight out of 10 shootings in Minneapolis result in no arrests, according to a Minnesota Reformer analysis.

Zoom in: The violence has taken lives young and old.

  • Randall Smith, 41, was fatally shot in his car in downtown Minneapolis in November. He was the manager of All Square, a grilled cheese restaurant in South Minneapolis that's part of a social justice nonprofit. Its CEO called Smith "the Prophet" because "he was about as centered in and committed to humanity as anyone I've known," according to the Star Tribune.
  • 27-year-old Marquisha Wiley was shot and killed in crossfire during an Oct. 10 shootout at Seventh Street Truck Park in St. Paul. She was a vet tech with a big heart and a passion for helping animals, a relative told the Pioneer Press.
  • Charlie Johnson was killed in the crossfire outside a downtown Minneapolis nightclub on May 22, just hours before the 21-year-old was set to graduate from the University of St. Thomas, according to KARE 11.
  • 6-year-old Aniya Allen and 9-year-old Trinity Ottoson-Smith were killed by crossfire in separate shootings in North Minneapolis last spring.

What's ahead: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey's budget has $7.8 million for youth violence prevention and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter is proposing $1.1 million for violence prevention strategies and alternative responses.

  • Both cities will have to tackle the problem while searching for new police chiefs.

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