An area of Brooklyn Park that has seen a sharp increase in violent crime over the past four weeks was the site of two shootings within two hours last night.
According to a press release from the city of Brooklyn Park, businesses in the area of Zane Avenue and 63rd Street worked with police to close early at 8:30 p.m. last night following the continued violence, a decision made to protect residents.
Both of the July 23 shootings occurred in the parking lot of Fast N Fresh Foods, 6321 Zane Ave., according to Brooklyn Park Deputy Police Chief Mark Bruley.
The gunfire marked the fourth and fifth shootings to occur in the area in the past three weeks, corresponding with an increase in other incidents involving weapons, the press release mentioned.
The first July 23 shooting occurred at 6 p.m. and was heard by an officer in the area; police say eight rounds were fired but it was unclear if anyone was struck. The second shooting occurred at 7:42 p.m. In that instance a person was struck in the leg. No arrests have been made.
It's not unusual for groups to congregate in the Fast N Fresh parking lot, but the nature of the gatherings has changed recently, Bruley said.
“There's always been groups, but we've never seen groups that are really this anti-police and really defying police in general – this lawlessness,” he said. “Now it's become a hangout where it's kind of an open crime environment.”
“Every week, every day, there's something going on,” Fast N Fresh store clerk Osman Musa said, describing crowds of mostly teenagers. “It's like a warzone here.”
Bruely described a prevalence of littering and trespassing – and, when police show up, taunting of officers. The presence of police has tended to lead to yet more trouble, he said, describing a delicate balancing act.
“We're trying to respond with the appropriate amount of presence. We notice if we put too many cops down there it just incites misconduct,” Bruley said.
He added that police have tried not to respond to minor offenses, but that they can't stay away for every incident. “It's now risen to shooting each other, and then we go down there and it's almost complete chaos,” Bruley stated.
According to the deputy chief, investigations have run into a lack of cooperation.
“Even the victims don't cooperate with us,” Bruley said. He added, though, “we do know many of the people involved are gang members.”
Brooklyn Park released videos of the shootings in hopes of receiving help from the public in identifying the suspects. Anyone with information regarding the shootings is urged to call Brooklyn Park Police at 763-493-8222.