With 15-year-old girl shot, neighborhood calls meeting


Joe Neuberger, Senior Commander of the St. Paul Police Department’s Eastern District, talks to community members about a shooting that took place in the parking lot of the Hazel Park Congregational Church.

Pierre Glass

A 15-year-old girl was shot in the stomach near the 1800 block of Minnehaha Avenue around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, according to a criminal complaint from the Ramsey County attorney’s office.

Pierre Glass, 18, is charged with shooting the girl.

She had been at a party in a home near the Hazel Park Congregational Church, which is a block east of Minnehaha and White Bear avenues.

She had left the party with a group of friends and walked across the street to the parking lot of the church when a car approached.

According to the complaint, the car was playing loud music, and a man leaned out the rear of the car and yelled “Are y’all ready? Who ready?”

He then shot at the group, reportedly missing his target, a 16-year-old boy, and hitting the girl.

While the vehicle containing the shooter drove off, the girl crawled behind part of the church to seek refuge.

From there, others from the party helped the girl back to the house. Police were called and brought medics.

When they arrived, the young girl was lying on a couch, struggling to breath. She asked the officers if she was going to die.

She was eventually brought to Children’s Hospital in downtown St. Paul where she was treated for the wound. She has since been released, police said.

The drive-by shooting took place in a typically quiet area a block from Little Oven Restaurant and Cherry Pit bar.

Relatively safe

Community members met on Monday, Dec. 9, to discuss the incident, get answers from police and connect with neighbors.

St. Paul City Council president Kathy Lantry spoke to the neighbors’ concerns. “Hopefully, this is an isolated incident,” she said.

There were about 50 at the meeting, which Lantry interpreted as a good sign.

“Getting people to show up is half the battle,” she said.

Joe Neuberger, the St. Paul Police Department’s Eastern District senior commander, said there will be a higher number of patrols in the area until they’re sure things are back to normal.

He told residents that statistically, “this part of town is relatively safe” and showed them a crime map of the area.

Gangs

Also present at the meeting was police Cmdr. Jeff Winger, who works with gangs and was part of the investigative team for the shooting incident.

He told neighbors the dispute was gang-related, stemming from a rivalry between the HAM Crazy gang and a West Side gang, and noted that police had already made two arrests, executed three search warrants, and seized three guns related to the case.

“We were able to wrap this up pretty quick,” he said.

According to a criminal complaint, the intended target of the shooting had himself indicated to police that the incident was gang-related. The 16-year-old said he was being targeted by members of the Hit Squad or West Side Bloods, because he left the gang and switched to the East Side Boyz, a rival gang.

“A lot of violence within gangs is gang-on-gang,” Winger said. “Unfortunately, this young girl got caught in the crossfire.”

Neuberger noted the house has had slightly above average calls for service, and encouraged residents to alert police if they see suspicious activity.

A Johnson High School teacher asked police if the department monitors social media. Neuberger told her they do indeed, and, in fact, cops actually knew about the party via social media and had sent squads there. However, they didn’t arrive before the shooting occurred.

Landlords

A nearby neighbor expressed frustration with the rental property where the party took place. She described the house as “a nuisance,” and noted that cars seemed to come and go all the time.

The landlord, Mark Kneer, was at the meeting to address such concerns.

Kneer, who owns hundreds of properties both on the East Side and on the North Side of Minneapolis, told Hazel Park residents, “It does me absolutely no good to have bad tenants.”

He explained that before renting out a property, he performs background checks and tries to screen for trouble.

He noted that he has fewer tenant problems in his Minneapolis houses, and suggested this is, in part, due to the Minneapolis Police Department’s system, where he can opt in to be notified if any of his tenants are involved in a crime. For instance, he gets an automated email whenever a tenant’s car is towed.

In St. Paul, there’s no such system. “I can’t just pull police reports every week,” he told the crowd.

Lantry noted that there are plans to implement a similar system in the 2014 budget. “Landlords won’t have any excuses if that goes” into effect, she said.

Kneer said that he is now in the process of trying to evict the tenants of the Minnehaha Avenue house -- he gave them notice of eviction, and in turn, he said they got an attorney through a free legal aid service, and will put up a defense.

Catching up with the suspect

According to a criminal complaint, Glass is charged with shooting the girl. The 18-year-old reportedly told police he’d been aiming for a different person.

The complaint said the victim had observed the suspect acting suspiciously at the party. Glass was identified to police via witness accounts.

They located and attempted to arrest Glass later on near Maryland Avenue and Hazelwood Street, the complaint states.

He fled on foot and appeared to be concealing a weapon. After arresting him, officers retraced his path with a police dog and found a silver semi-automatic handgun in the snow.

In a police interview, Glass reportedly told investigators he had been at the party, but denied having a handgun.

Glass is being held on $200,000 bail at the Ramsey County Jail.

Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com, or follow on Twitter at @ESRPatrickLark.
 

Scared for his life

The Rev. Tony O., a pastor for a Spanish-speaking congregation that worships every Saturday evening at Hazel Park Congregational Church, said he was in the church at the time of a drive-by shooting on Nov. 30.
He said he heard the shots, and then shortly after, a girl started banging on the glass. He went to check on the noise, when six young men pushed a door open that hadn’t been properly latched and entered the building.
One of the men reportedly punched him hard in the shoulder and threatened him, saying, “Shut up or I’ll kill you.” He appeared to have a gun concealed under his coat, the pastor said.
The pastor began to flee, but stopped at a side door leading to the parking lot, realizing there were a number of other young people standing in the parking lot. He ran and hid in a nearby room.
“I feared for my life,” he said, adding that he was shaking when he called 9-1-1. “They’re going to kill me,” he told the police dispatcher, and then started to cry.
The young men eventually left the building, and the minister was able to properly lock the doors.

 

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