Latest Minneapolis Shooting Amplifies Call for Gun Violence as Public Health Issue

August 20, 2017 11:04 PM

Minneapolis police arrested 28-year-old Travion Jones Sunday morning in connection with the shooting of two people near a downtown nightclub.

Naomi Williams, 20, was hit by a bullet in the leg. The Minneapolis woman now has a cast to cover her wound and crutches to get around. Chris Jones Jr., also 20, is still in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wounds to his hand and leg. Authorities say both will make a full recovery.


The gunfire happened Sunday about 2 a.m. near 4th Street and Hennepin Avenue South. It's the same area where gunfire erupted the weekend before and resulted in several injuries.

Although city records show the number of people injured or killed by guns citywide is down 23 percent in 2017 over 2016, the number of weapons recovered is up substantially, at 51 percent.

RELATED: Downtown Minneapolis Shooting Injures 2 at Bar Close

The volley of ongoing violence is more than just a crime to Julie McAlester. She lost her 16-year-old son, Sabrae, in 2015 to a shooting.

"We need to let these kids know their mothers are hurting," McAlester said. "My son will never be home. We're from St. Louis Park, the guy that killed my son was from Burnsville. It affects all walks of life."

Nancy Nord Bence can speak to that. She is the executive director of Protect Minnesota, a leading gun violence prevention organization, and believes gun violence is a public health issue.

"Three-quarters of gun deaths are suicides which happen disproportionately in greater Minnesota," Nord Bence said. "About 95 percent of those are white people."

Protect Minnesota, along with the University of Minnesota and the Nobel Peace Prize, are holding the first-ever conference specifically with mental health, public safety, social service and other organizations to study causes and solutions. The conference will be held Sept. 13 and 14.

"We need to make sure we provide intervention and services people need to make it more beneficial for them to do anything other than pickup a gun," Nord Bence said.

Protect Minnesota points out gun violence steals lives, devastates families, oppresses communities and costs the state over $2 billion a year. Workshops are scheduled to address racial disparities, suicide risk factors, domestic violence, mass incarceration, community policing strategies and public policy. 

A court hearing is pending for Jones, the suspect in Sunday's shooting. 


Beth McDonough

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