2 recovering after Oakland Cemetery shooting, St. Paul Police asking for tips
St. Paul Police on Sunday encouraged anyone with information to come forward in relation to a shooting during a memorial at Oakland Cemetery on Saturday night that sent two women, 18 and 40, to the hospital.
“It’s unfortunate this situation occurred during what appears to be an already difficult time for those involved, given they said they were at the cemetery to remember a lost loved one,” wrote spokesperson Molly McMillen in an email update to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
Officers were told that a group of people in a van showed up to the cemetery for a balloon release and memorial, McMillen said. Then, around 7 p.m., another group in an unknown car drove up and opened fire on the van, hitting two women and a nearby vehicle that belonged to a man who told police he was attending the memorial, the spokesperson said, adding, “While the injuries were severe, they are not said to be life-threatening and we are certainly grateful for that.”
Police on Sunday clarified that there were two, not three victims as officials initially reported. Information relayed to police directly following the shooting led them to believe there was a third victim at the hospital being x-rayed, the spokesperson said. It was later clarified that the x-ray belonged to one of the two female victims already accounted for.
The news of the shooting did not surprise several of the neighbors in the homes surrounding the cemetery.
“Lately no. Nope. Too many shootings around here lately,” said one of those neighbors, Janine Benoit.
Benoit said she didn’t hear the gunshots but witnessed some of the aftermath.
“So we were at Hoover’s bar before 7,” she said. “Walked outside to have a smoke and cops were everywhere.”
“We know it’s not the safest area,” said Pastor Richard Her of Hmong Evangelical Lutheran Church, hearing the news for the first time right after Sunday service.
“But again, this is our community. And we try to be here for the community as much as we can.”
Oakland Cemetery is just across the street and is a final resting place for a number of people who used to go to the church.
“It is sacred,” Her added. “And hearing that that’s happening again, you know, it’s just — it’s hard to process, you know. Who’s willing to go to that length to show such hatred?”
Standing in the sanctuary, Pastor Her offered up well wishes and hope that justice comes through.
“Just to the people involved, we’ll keep you in our prayers,” he said. “Pray for the best, as I say. Pray for the best.”
Police did not have vehicle or suspect descriptions as of this report and encourage anyone with information to contact St. Paul Police.
“And if they don’t feel comfortable doing so,” McMillen added, “and would rather speak with a friend, community or faith leader who can call police on their behalf, we would encourage them to do so at (651) 291-1111.”
Police do not believe there’s an ongoing threat to the public, she added, encouraging people to still be “mindful of their surroundings and report anything that appears suspicious to police.”