ST PAUL, Minn. — If you wanted a visual to measure how concerned people in St. Paul are about the city's gun violence, you didn't need to look further than the Central Baptist Church Thursday night.
Seats at the first of three community meetings to address what's been a record year for homicides involving guns in the city filled quickly.
"I see how it destroys a community. I’ve been shot several times myself," said St. Paul resident Jeremiah Witt. "If we don’t fix it now, everybody thinks that was a lot of shooting in that few day span? It’s [going to] get way worse."
Mayor Melvin Carter hosted the meeting to gauge the community's feelings about the violence and get input on their solutions.
"I asked many of you on the way in here 'how you doing?' And I heard you say 'I’m sad' … And I heard you say 'I’m frustrated,'" Carter told the crowd. "And let me tell you, I share those sentiments with you."
The meetings were prompted by what's been a record year for homicides involving guns. St. Paul Police say 25 of the city's 28 homicides in 2019 have involved guns. The previous record was 18, set in 1992 and met again in 1995.
"In my 56 years in St. Paul, it's never been like this," said one woman during the meeting.
The people at the meeting shared their concerns around tables set up. A city staff member was at each table taking notes. Mayor Carter said the supplemental budget he wants to bring to the city council to address gun violence will be a "direct response" to what he learns at the meetings.
The next two meetings will be held here:
- Tuesday, November 12, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Rice Recreation Center, 1021 Marion Street, St. Paul, MN 55117
- Saturday, November 16 , 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Arlington Hills Community Center, 1200 Payne Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55130