Downtown Mpls. 'nuisance' businesses on notice

Freeman responds to downtown gun violence

MINNEAPOLIS - When it comes to gun violence in downtown Minneapolis, Police Chief Janee Harteau has made it very clear -- repeat offenders are the problem.

In a news conference last October, after several people were shot in the Warehouse District, she said, "I used to get surprised by the length of these folks' criminal history -- they are for felonies -- they are for significant crimes and gun possession. That's what we are dealing with and that's the struggle."

Over the weekend, in which two of 5 people shot downtown died, Harteau said, "I am concerned about the lack of adequate consequences and the increasing number of repeat offenders who continue to be the driving force behind our violent crime."

In response, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says the most violent criminals are being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

"What's frustrating is somebody goes to prison spends 30, 40, 50 months and the first thing they do is get a gun and go downtown there's not much we can do about that," said Freeman.

But when that's not enough, he says, it's time to get creative. Now, he's also looking at where the suspects were before the shooting and putting owners of those establishments on notice.

"There's a thing called 'nuisance properties' which was initially designed to go after problems in neighborhoods. Guess what? We're using that downtown. People are going to the same places that are coming out and shooting up the place afterward," said Freeman.

Freeman says he's issued two "nuisance" letters to businesses for October's shootings and he's sending two more for this past weekend's shootings.

Owners will have a year to turn things around, whether it's hiring more security, adding more cameras or better screening of customers.

If owners don't, they'll be shut down.


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