19-year-old Tomika Swoope was walking home from the Southside Deli at 33rd and Chicago where she had bought a Slim Jim for her grandmother. She was outside her home at 32nd and Columbus Avenue when someone drove by and fired about five shots in the direction of her home on Monday, April 25, at 11 pm. One bullet struck her in the head. She was taken to Abbott Northwestern hospital before being transferred to HCMC in very critical condition. She died Thursday, April 28.
Neighbors, especially those with small children, have been extremely upset by the recent rash of shootings. One neighbor wrote to the Powderhorn issues list, “We live directly opposite to the house in front of which the incident occurred yesterday … I am not sure if it is gang related. [According to authorities, gang members are known to live at the address.] This is my first witness to a gun shot and it really scares me. How could we make our neighborhood better and safer? If we know someone might be dealing drugs, what are we supposed to do?”
Another wrote, “Every time a neighbor gets murdered I feel like moving. Am I just a wimp? I love Powderhorn. Is violence the price we pay if we don’t like the suburbs?”
Another neighbor responded by saying, “You are not alone. Deadly shooting of bystanders has me very concerned, too. I find myself checking the address on the map and seeing how close the hits have come to my family. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to reduce the deadly violence, except putting more pressure on criminals to move elsewhere with their drug dealing, etc. It doesn’t give us any comfort, but violence in the suburbs is on the rise, which indicates that moving might not solve the problem.”
Flo Golod wrote: “I’d start by calling Karen Notsch, the community crime prevention specialist, who has been very helpful in our situation. Likely they will tell you to start documenting the problem by calling whenever you see suspicious behavior and getting other people on your block to call. Enough calls get the house or building designated as a ‘problem property’ and that helps Karen and the City Council do the work to get rid of the tenants. She is also good about identifying and calling the landlord. Karen can be reached at 612-673-2856 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doug Hill, of the Powderhorn Park Safety Committee, responded: “May I add to Flo’s good advice and say to call 911 anytime there is suspicious activity including drug dealing, loud parties etc. It’s very helpful to have an address and or license plate numbers (keep notes). Karen Notsch has helped my block many times. PPNA is currently working with Karen to organize all blocks that don’t have a leader. Anyone reading this who does not know their block leader please call or e-mail Karen Notsch.
Council Member Elizabeth Glidden wrote: “I have been waiting in hopes of having more to share with you about the shooting in the 3200 block of Columbus, but do not yet have official information from the Minneapolis Police Department that can be shared. My thoughts and prayers are with neighbors, friends, and family affected by this horrible violence.
“The MPD is being very circumspect with information—which sometimes indicates they are pursuing active leads. Inspector Lucy Gerold, who is the commander for the 3rd precinct, as well as Crime Prevention Specialist Karen Notsch, are very responsive to your requests for information about area crime, working on problem properties, and any questions you may have.
“We have been working with Jim Parsons, staff at CANDO, and Karen Notsch and MPD on organizing some targeted block club meetings in response to violent incidents and crimes.
“My office has worked with the Youth Coordinating Board (ycb.org) and some of the public and nonprofit youth serving organizations to set up a meeting to discuss serving youth, plans for the summer, and how to address gaps in youth programming and other issues of concern. The meeting is May 4, 3-5 p.m., at Powderhorn Park Rec Center. We helped host a similar meeting last year, but it was too late in the season to affect plans for summer. The timing for this meeting should allow for better coordination in planning for summer.
“Both Central and Powderhorn have had for years ‘problem property’ groups—where probation, MPD, inspections, city council offices and neighborhood staff meet to discuss coordinated plans for dealing with problem properties. Most of the properties have been referred by the meeting partners or resident complaints (for instance, if you call our office or Karen Notsch about a problem property, it will be evaluated for monitoring by the Problem Property group). This group is now being more proactive— and has used new city database tools to look for properties with high numbers of police calls, citations, open orders, etc. This may help in addressing neighborhood issues and crime in our community.
“Finally, I am coordinating with Inspector Gerold some internal city and county meetings to focus on how we address area crime in response to recent violent incidents, compiling information we have on crime, probation, inspections and licensing issues. We will then host a follow-up meeting that broadens the coordinated work with stakeholders outside the city and county.
“There have been so many positive investments by neighbors and businesses recently—the Modern Times maybe being the most recent along with new shops at 38th & Chicago. I’m 100 percent committed to working with our neighborhoods and public partners to support old and new investments and all of the positive energy that is critical to our connected community.”