Court records reveal spiral of Mpls. gang feuds, guns, death

Searching a suspect for drugs
Minneapolis police, including Sgt. Jeff Carter, left, searched a suspect for drugs after getting a tip Mar. 12, 2015 in north Minneapolis. Carter leads a directed patrol that makes frequent traffic stops looking for guns and drugs, indicators of gang activity.
Jennifer Simonson | MPR News

For nearly a decade, members of four rival gangs based in north Minneapolis have shot at each other in a feud that has left nearly half a dozen dead and several others wounded.

Law enforcement officials call it one of the most violent they've ever seen. One man tied to the feud, James Lamar Davis of Brooklyn Center, will be sentenced this week. But police don't expect an end to the conflict any time soon.

Members of YNT — which stands for Young and Thuggin — and their allies, the Taliban, are in a bloody feud with members of the 1-9 Block Dipset and their allies, the Stick Up Boys. Minneapolis police officials say this conflict is particularly deadly because members of these gangs often settle their beefs with guns.

"Back in the '80s and '90s it was baseball bats and chains and whatever," said Sgt. Jeff Carter, an 11-year veteran of the force who's spent part of his career investigating street gangs. "Now everything seems to be more centered around guns."

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The YNT-1-9 Dipset feud is a "hot button" issue in the Fourth Precinct, Carter added, though he wouldn't talk specifically about the gangs because they are the subject of an ongoing federal investigation.

The vendetta has left a vast paper trail over the years of search warrants, criminal complaints and pretrial documents filed in Hennepin County District Court detailing the years of violence and retaliation.

Don't shoot
A vehicle parked in north Minneapolis, Sept 2, 2014. Gang violence contributed to a spike in shootings in the area in 2014.
Jennifer Simonson | MPR News 2014

The records, however, don't reveal why it all started.

Prosecutors say the conflict may have started as far back as 2006, when three members of the 1-9 Block Dipset shot and killed the cousin of a member of the Tre Tre Crips. However, they don't have an immediate link between that gang and the 1-9s.

In 2009, Kyle Parker, a member of the Taliban, was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting near his mother's home in Minneapolis. A 1-9 Block Dipset member, Chris Bahtuoh of Minneapolis, was convicted of aiding and abetting first degree murder for the benefit of a gang.

In May 2010, Taliban member Derrick "DNice" Martin was gunned down at Lake Calhoun. No one has been charged with that killing. However, homicide investigators have placed several 1-9 Block Dipset members in the area at the time of the shooting.

In November 2013, 1-9 Block Dipset leader Tyrone "Crack" Washington was murdered in Epic nightclub.

Word spread on social media that Taliban member Kibbie Shakeel Walker of Brooklyn Park, 23, killed Washington.

Walker admitted that he was in the club the night of the shooting but denied any involvement in the killing. He was sentenced this month to six years in prison for the shooting.

In April 2014, Davis, a member of the 1-9 Block Dipset, shot Walker and another Taliban member, Cortez Blakemore of Champlin. Blakemore was partially paralyzed by a bullet that hit him in the spine. Two weeks later, Walker shot at rival gang members in the car and struck a pregnant woman in the leg.

Blakemore was also one of seven YNT or Taliban members indicted on federal drug distribution charges earlier this month.

"At one of the pre-trial hearings an investigator ... Jerry Wallerich, testified that he couldn't keep track of how many times these guys shot at each other because they shoot at each other like you and I would go out for dinner," said Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Thad Tudor, who prosecuted the case against Davis, 27.

Suspicious vehicle
Minneapolis police Sgt. Jeff Carter stopped a suspicious vehicle Thursday night, Mar. 12, 2015 in north Minneapolis looking for guns or drug activity.
Jennifer Simonson | MPR News

The U.S. Attorney's office also indicted nearly a dozen members of the 1-9 Block Dipset and Stick Up Boys late last year in an alleged gun possession conspiracy.

These local and federal law enforcement efforts are making the streets safer by targeting some of the most violent gang members, said Senior Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Andrew LeFevour.

Prosecutors and police are not the only people trying to cool down the feud.

Rev. Jerry McAfee, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP and pastor at New Salem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, says he and other African-American clergy and civil rights advocates are trying to broker peace agreements between members of all four gangs and that those efforts have already led to a slowdown in shootings between the rival gangs.

Law enforcement, he adds, plays an important role in stopping the violence but locking up gang leaders leaves a vacuum for someone else to fill.

"Then we got to find out all over again who it is and by the time we can get to know them and build some kind of trust," he said, "we don't know how many folks might be dead."

McAfee says he's praying that the cooling off period will hold up under the heat of another summer.

Editor's note (March 19, 2015): The original version of this story was unclear on the timing of the incident in which Kibbie Shakeel Walker shot at rival gang members in a car and struck a pregnant woman in the leg. The story has been updated.