St. Paul grappling with 5 homicides in 2 weeks

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A shooting Saturday night outside an affordable senior housing complex in St. Paul left two dead and three others hurt, capping two violent weeks in the capitol city.

The shooting bumped the city’s 2023 homicide total to five. While that number is down from the nine homicides recorded by this point in time in 2022, this has been a particularly rough February, according to St. Paul Police Sgt. Mike Ernster.

Around 5:15 p.m. Saturday, gunshots pierced the ears of those in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood.

Jorge Cruz said it’s the second time in two months he and his family have heard gunfire from their rental home near Kings Crossing, the apartment complex with the parking lot that was the site of Saturday night’s shooting.

“At least 7 shots,” Cruz recalled.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS caught up with some apartment complex residents who did not want to be identified for safety reasons. They said the building’s community room was an unusually packed house leading up to the gunshots. Then, they saw an altercation spill over from inside to the parking lot, where they witnessed two men go down.

“When officers arrived, they found a chaotic scene,” Ernster said at a press conference Saturday.

The shooting erupted at the tail end of the celebration of life.

Responders pronounced one man dead at the scene; the second man died later at the hospital, Ernster said. Of the other three shot, police said two women had non-life-threatening wounds, and another man was critically injured. There hasn’t been an update on his condition since Saturday night.

Police have not arrested anyone in connection to the shooting as of posting.

“No motive has been identified,” Ernster said. “But I can tell you that they do not believe that this is a random incident.”

Ernster added at this point, police have not found any connection between what happened Saturday night and a different incident just the night before — the shooting of 3 teenagers at a funeral reception in the Wellstone Community Center.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter joined police in expressing frustration at the recent violent events.

“We are tired of having this press conference. We’re tired of the words ‘disgusted’ and ‘senseless.’ So frustrating. We’re tired of having to figure out how to wrap words around violence,” Carter said.

The incident marked homicides four and five of the year, all in the month of February alone. The definition of homicide, in this case, is when one or more people are responsible for the death of another.

Although the number is down from the nine recorded in St. Paul by this time last year, Ernster said the difference in 2023 is all five happened in the span of two weeks.

The string began with the stabbing death of 15-year-old Devin Scott on Feb. 10 at Harding High School. The next day, Yia Xiong died in an officer-involved shooting at the Winslow Commons affordable housing complex, for which no charges have been filed. Then on Feb. 16, Abdul Arif was killed on the job at a St. Paul smoke shop.

The latest numbers from St. Paul Police show there have been half as many shooting victims as last year at this point. Up to last week, police recorded 20 victims. That count was at 40 on Feb. 20, 2022.

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