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Saint Paul Police Chief calls on judges to hold felons with guns accountable

Chief Todd Axtell says the common denominator in shootings like Saturday's is that the gunmen already are prohibited from carrying firearms.

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Saint Paul's Police Chief said today he doesn't think there's ever been a shooting in the city that's injured so many people.

He says it is time to draw the line when it comes to punishing people who illegally have guns and cause gun violence.

"I can't tell you how many times over the last two days I've talked with people in our city who have said 'That could have been my child.' Or, 'That could have been my grandchild.' So, it's very personal," said Saint Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell.

Axtell says the shooting inside Seventh Street Truck Park bar became especially personal when he met Sunday morning with the family of victim Marquisha Wiley.

"It was absolutely gut wrenching. It was heartbreaking," Axtell said. "At some point, things need to change."

The key problem leading to this kind of gun violence, Axtell says, is that there are more people settling differences -- as minor as perceived disrespect -- with gunfire. 

And a growing number of those people involved are felons who legally are not allowed to carry a gun in the first place.

In his interview with KARE 11, Chief Axtell called on judges who he believes contribute to a revolving door justice system.

"We need to be more accountable to the victims and future victims than we are to the needs of somebody who decides and chooses to continue to carry a gun, who shouldn't be," Axtell said.

Chief Axtell admitted no number of police patrolling the streets could have stopped the shooting inside the bar. 

But he insists with increased staffing support, future crimes like it can be prevented.

"To prevent the next crime. That's where crimes could be prevented in the future if we have the investigative support and the number of officers necessary to engage the community to learn who's carrying the guns is equally important," Axtell said.

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