Minneapolis police are still searching for at least one more suspect in this week's triple homicide after announcing on Saturday the arrest of an unidentified 17-year old boy in connection with the case.
The arrest is a break in a case that authorities and members of the East African community are calling an outrage and a tragedy. Police officials say there may be more arrests as the investigation continues.
The 17-year old suspect's name has not been released. He is being held at the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center.
The shooting at Seward Market and Halal Meat earlier this week left three men dead: 28-year-old Osman Jama Elmi of St. Paul; 30-year-old Mohamed Abdi Warfa of Savage; and 31-year-old Anwar Salah Mohammed of Brooklyn Park.
Abdi Mohamed, first cousin to two of the men, said the family is still coming to terms with the shooting.
"No words can describe the loss and the grief," he said. "We hope by bringing justice to these cold-blooded killers that will give us some closure."
Seward Market is a busy corner store popular with Somali immigrants that also handled money transfers.
Mohamed said the killings have angered the East African community, spurring people to come forward with tips.
"We hope it is time that the community recognizes that if we don't do something about this, if we don't step up, come forward and help the police to solve this case we will have more Mohameds and Osmans," he said. "This has to be the case where we say enough is enough"
Police officials say that appears to be happening.
At press conference Saturday, Minneapolis Police Department spokesman Sgt. William Palmer wouldn't say whether the 17-year old suspect was also African, but he said it's clear that information from the Somali community has helped move the investigation forward.
"We are very thankful to the Somali community. In the last few days we have had enormous cooperation from that community," Palmer said. "We have had enormous support from that community in helping us in this case and I'd like to publicly acknowledge that.
"There have been times when we have not had the best relationship with that community and I think this is certainly a sign that we are on the road to much better relationships there. This has been a tragedy that hopefully something good in terms of community relations will come out of it and from this week I think we have seen that."
The brutal nature of the shootings at Seward Market has led many in the East African community to feel frustrated. Hussein Samatar, Director of The African Development Center, said that's why so many people are coming forward to help with the investigation.
"I would hope that this would be a lesson for all of us to collaborate, to work and to be effective in crime prevention and do whatever it takes to make sure that every one of us is safe in our own community," Samatar said.
The triple homicide was followed by another shooting late Friday night, when a man was found dead near East 34th Street and Chicago Avenue South.
That makes five homicides in the first nine days of the year -- already a quarter of the total number of killings in Minneapolis in all of 2009.
At the press conference Saturday, police spokesman Palmer declined to speculate on what may have caused the spike in homicides but acknowledged it's been "a very bad week."
(MPR reporter Laura Yuen contributed to this report.)