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Ramsey County Sheriff calls St. Paul gun violence '11-year gang war'

Updated: November 07, 2019 10:12 PM

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS this year's sharp rise in gun-related deaths and injuries are mostly tied to an ongoing feud between two rival St. Paul street gangs.

"There is no doubt that the biggest part of this is connected to a longtime feud between two of the city's more violent gangs," said Fletcher.  "We have to recognize what the problem is and the problem is we have a small gang war."

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Fletcher said more than a dozen of the record-setting shootings and killings can be linked to a murder as far back as 2008, and there are no indications the retaliatory shootings are going to end anytime soon.

"Some of these go back to 2008 with grudges held that long," said Fletcher. "It's family members that have ill will toward other shooters and other families continuing to shoot at each other to this day and not only the '08 murder but there have been new cycles started since then."

St. Paul police chief on combating gun violence: 'Reassigning officers, working closer with feds'

Fletcher said St. Paul, Ramsey County and federal investigators have all been able to come up with a list of about 50 people who have connections to gangs and are responsible for much of the shootings in St. Paul this year.

"We have to target those 50 kids and offer them a way out and assistance, if they want out of gangs," said Fletcher. "And that means we have to get into their lives to the point where you either arrest them, or they change course."

Fletcher said none of his office's help, or the help of the BCA and several federal agencies in any way, shape, or form is meant to be critical of St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell and his officers.

"They have done a hell of a job in St. Paul and it is just an unusual spike in this stuff right now," said Fletcher. "And, all we are doing is saying to St. Paul Police is, 'hey, we are here to help' because there are limited resources to tackle something of this magnitude."

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Jay Kolls

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