County Attorney Freeman Addresses City Council on Downtown Shootings

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Curbing violence downtown and throughout Minneapolis has been a top priority long before Saturday morning’s shooting on Fifth Street, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman told a Minneapolis City Council committee Wednesday afternoon.

The shooting, which injured six people, resulted in criminal charges against two men and Freeman told the council’s Public Safety Committee that a warrant has been issued for a third man in the shootout.

He outlined three major initiatives the county attorney’s office has pursued in order to combat violence.

“Both the U.S. Attorney and the police and our office work hard on felons in possession of firearms,” Freeman said. “We are working very hard on it.”

Felons with guns are particularly dangerous because they already have shown a disregard for the law and are more likely to kill or injure someone. So prosecutors from the county attorney’s office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office meet every two weeks to discuss cases and see which jurisdiction should take the case, depending on who can get the longest prison sentence.

He also told the committee members that his attorneys and Minneapolis police have been working on violent crimes downtown, particularly robberies and assaults. While those cases are under investigation at the moment, Freeman said he hoped to reveal more details soon.

Finally, organizations working with juveniles, and supported by the county attorney’s office, have successfully kept many of those under 17 off the streets. As a result, juveniles are less likely to be victims of crimes or suspects than even just a few years ago, Freeman said.

Both Freeman and Minneapolis Police Inspector Mike Kjos, who also spoke to the committee, said that these shootings are unacceptable. But the young men with guns do not seem to care, since there was a heavy police presence and video cameras everywhere in the block where the gunfire occurred, Kjos said.

“The message that should go out is this is not acceptable behavior and we will take swift action,” Kjos said. “If you choose to make poor decisions downtown, you will be apprehended.”