On Monday, police were still looking into the circumstances behind the shooting deaths of three St. Paul people and the injuries of two more over the weekend in the city’s Payne-Phalen area.
According to the Ramsey County medical examiner’s office, Angelica Gonzales, 33, Cory Freeman, 42, and Maisha Spaulding, 44, were slain in the shooting on Sunday afternoon in the 900 block of Case Avenue.
Man and woman who were also hurt in the incident were still being treated at the hospital on Monday afternoon, according to Interim Police Chief Jeremy Ellison.
Ellison said at a press conference on Monday that the shooting was not a domestic-related event and that police think they know who is to blame, but he would not say whether one or multiple persons were accountable.
Police described the crime scene as “one of the most intricate” ones they had looked into in a while on Sunday.
The number of casualties and “just the sight of the catastrophe,” according to Ellison, who was speaking on Labor Day in front of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, which is located across the street from the location of the massacre. At about 4:30 p.m., Gonzales, Freeman, and Spaulding were discovered dead inside the East Side home. The survivors were discovered outdoors.
The victims’ connections have not been made public by the authorities. According to Ellison, as of Monday, the victims’ residence status was unknown to authorities.
Ellison responded that investigators are “doing a deep dive” into the calls for service and will be “looking at whether we missed anything or could have done something differently.” Police were called to the address 17 times in the past year, including for reports of domestic violence, aggravated assault, and disorderly conduct.
Given the knowledge we had at the time, it seems that we have already taken the necessary action, he added.
At the press conference, Ellison was accompanied by Mayor Melvin Carter, City Councilwoman Jane Prince, and representatives of the African American Leadership Council and the St. Paul Black Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.
The event began with a prayer led by the Rev. Melvin Miller, pastor of Progressive Baptist Church and head of the ministerial alliance.
Miller prayed, “Have pity on these families who lost loved ones and extend your mercy even onto those who have committed this atrocity.” We can only be united through you, Lord. We hope that by working together, we can find lasting solutions to this issue that keeps affecting our neighborhood.
Miller begged that the other gunshot victims, including Gonzales, Freeman, Spaulding, refrain from using violence in retaliation.
We aim to rid the neighborhood of violence, he said. “Changing the trajectory, not retaliating, is the best way to commemorate their legacy.”
Tyrone Terrill, president of the African American Leadership Council, said that those responsible for the shooting “ought to be brought to justice as quickly as possible.”
Once again, a horrible, awful thing occurred in our neighborhood, Terrill said. Since our neighborhood and five other families have now been touched, we are praying for all the families on both sides.
According to Carter, the neighborhood is “weary” of the frequent acts of violence. He deemed the shooting on Sunday “inacceptable.”
He replied, “We are sick of these news conferences. “We are sick of receiving calls at midnight. We’re sick of seeing similar occurrences take place in our neighborhood time and time again. It’s just excessive.
The press conference was attended by Janis JaJa’s grandchildren, Devin, 11, and Abraham, 7, who live less than a block and a half from the murder site. When she heard the gunshots Sunday afternoon, JaJa said she was stunned.
“That’s awful. That is not acceptable. JaJa, who has lived on the East Side for 27 years, described the situation as “just very awful.” We must remove weapons and other items from public spaces. The dangers in our world are only increasing.
JaJa, however, asserted that she would not live in terror.
You must continue living, she replied. “I feel it’s my duty to invite these men over and inform them about the situation in our community. We must work together.
Sasha Cotton, the vice president of the African American Leadership Council, acknowledged Abraham and Devin’s attendance at the press conference and reminded everyone in attendance that autumn courses for them and other children from St. Paul Public Schools began on Tuesday.
When these kinds of tragedies occur, Cotton said, “I’m forced to really think about how we react as a community to ensure our children are taken care of.” Remind them that the community must come together in times of tragedy and take care of one another if we are to achieve our goal of making St. Paul the safest place for them.
Following the press conference, Cotton said that people sometimes forget how violent crimes like the Sunday quintuple shooting “ripple through our society.”
The psychological effects and trauma that our communities experience when there is that lack of safety — that safety net that doesn’t seem like it is there — is unsettling, she said. “Of course, we have first-line victims who are damaged physically.
With Sunday’s shooting, there have now been 27 killings in St. Paul this year. In the city at same time last year, there were 22.
Since four individuals were shot dead in the West Seventh Street neighborhood last September and their remains were discovered in a car left in a cornfield in Dunn County, Wisconsin, the tragedy was the bloodiest mass murder in St. Paul. One individual is facing murder charges and is awaiting trial.
The massacre was also the most mass shooting in St. Paul since 16 people were shot at the Seventh Street Truck Park in October of last year, one of whom died. Two men are facing trial for their alleged involvement in a private argument that resulted in shooting.
Anyone with information regarding the shooting on Sunday is urged to contact the department’s homicide squad at 651-266-5650, according to police.