Photo provided by family members
Home where Nizzel George died
MINNEAPOLIS - Police Chief Tim Dolan says it appears an ongoing dispute was behind the hail of bullets fired at a north Minneapolis home Tuesday morning, one of which claimed the life of a young boy, Nizzel George, as he slept.
Dolan, Minneapolis Mayor R-T Rybak and other officials met with reporters at City Hall just hours after the child, described as 5 or 6-years-old, was hit by a bullet as he dozed on a couch inside a home on the 4500 block of Bryant Avenue North.
Police responded to reports of gunfire outside the home around 8:30 a.m.; Nizzel was rushed to North Memorial Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Dolan said his investigators believe as many as ten shots were fired by what they believe was a single gunman who then fled on foot.
"I was coming out of the kitchen and that is when shots starting coming through the window. At first there were 5-6 shots right at once, then there were three big shots. It was like ten shots in all," said Rob Tolliver, who says he is the boy's uncle. "He hollered ou, that is when I knew he was hit. It sounded like firecrackers at first and then I could see drywall popping off the walls. He was shot in the back and when the paramedics came and turned him over, you couldn't see no exit wound."
Family members called the boy by his nickname Stewie. His grandmother, Rochelle Banks, clutched a photo of him to her chest outside the home, crying for her "only grandbaby."
"In a couple of months, he would have been six. But, he played in the park, he liked swimming and stuff and riding bikes, and everybody in the neighborhood knew him on his block," said Tolliver.
Family friend Hilary Moore snapped one of the last photos of Stewie last month, when she found him dressed for school hours before anyone else in the house was awake, something he did often, because he loved kindergarten.
"He woke up, put his little outfit on, his little shoes, made sure he matched and was ready to go to school," said Moore.
The chief said there is a long list of police calls to the home where the shooting occurred. He didn't want to comment on the nature of those calls but did say it appears a conflict between the gunman and someone who lived inside the house was the motivation for the shooting. Dolan said there are many people talking to his homicide investigators.
"Quite a few people have come forward, which is good," Dolan said. "We need more."
Rybak, Dolan and City Councilman Don Samuels spoke at length about their continued frustration with the supply of guns that funnels into north Minneapolis, weapons that end up in the hands of young people who use them in acts of violence and frustration.
They say finding the person responsible for killing the child is important to letting north side residents know they are valued, and that people who aren't struggling have not forgotten them.
KG Wilson, a Minneapolis community peace activist who founded Hope Ministries, came to the shooting scene with a message for anyone that would listen, urging people with information to come forward.
"We got to do this, us that live in this community, you all know people. Let your ears open up in here. This ain't called snitching right here. You kill a baby, that ain't called snitching! That is called getting a coward off the street before he kills one of your babies," he said, alongside another grieving mother, Marsha Mayes.
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