Families of children hit by gunfire in Minneapolis plead for community to turn in those responsible

Family members of children hit by gunfire
Raishawn Smith (left), father of 9-year-old Trinity Ottoson-Smith; Randy Ottoson, grandfather of Trinity; and K.G. Wilson, grandfather of 6-year-old Aniya Allen, gather at a news conference on Sunday in Minneapolis announcing a reward for information leading to arrests in three recent cases of children being hit by gunfire. Aniya died last week after being hit by gunshots while riding in her mother's car; Trinity was shot earlier this month while jumping on a trampoline at a home.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Family members of three children struck by gunfire in Minneapolis in recent weeks joined city leaders Sunday for an urgent, renewed push for the arrest of those responsible.

That includes a $30,000 reward now being offered by the Minneapolis business community for information leading to arrests in those shootings — $10,000 for each case.

"It's been too many days and they're still out here," K.G. Wilson said of the people who fatally shot his 6-year-old granddaughter Aniya Allen, and critically wounded two other children. "Not only do we want justice for our babies — we don't want these people out here to shoot somebody else's babies, or it'll be another press conference (and) another family will be standing up here with us."

A young girl and a man pose for a photograph
K.G. Wilson (right) and his granddaughter, 6-year-old Aniya Allen.
Courtesy Photo

Aniya was riding in her mother’s car last Monday night when they were suddenly caught in an exchange of gunfire near 36th and Penn avenues North. She later died at a hospital.

On May 15, 9-year-old Trinity Ottoson-Smith was shot while jumping on a trampoline during a birthday party at a home in the city’s Jordan neighborhood.

And on April 30, 10-year-old Ladavionne Garrett Jr. was shot in the head as he was riding in a car with his parents.

There have been no arrests in any of those cases.

"I will work diligently, and my men and women will continue to rush into harm's way to keep our community safe and to deal with the condition of violence. But we have a condition of heart in our city, in our communities, that we must address — and that takes all of us," Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Sunday, alongside Mayor Jacob Frey and other community and business leaders. "These families should not have to go another night without knowing that we've got the persons responsible for harming our babies — because they're all of our children."

A woman speaks at a news conference
Civil rights attorney and activist Nekima Levy Armstrong speaks at a news conference in Minneapolis on Sunday, at which community leaders announced a reward for information leading to arrests in three recent cases of children being hit by gunfire. K.G. Wilson, grandfather of 6-year-old Aniya Allen who died after being shot last week, is in the background.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Activist Nekima Levy Armstrong said the children's families and the community are crying out for justice and an end to all forms of violence, and urged anyone with information about who shot the three children to come forward.

She also called on other philanthropic organizations in the Twin Cities to add to the reward fund.

"It is important to not demonize an entire community because of the conduct of a small number of people. As a community, we have to continue to come together," she said. "... People want to know who did this, they want to feel safe. They want their children to be able to play in their backyards. They want to feel that peace, just as some people feel in other parts of the city that are much more affluent. ...

"I hope that people in the community who have guns, who've been engaged in senseless violence, would put down their guns, and pick up their hearts, and truly be a part of our community."

Wilson on Sunday remembered his granddaughter Aniya as someone who "loved everybody." He said he's alternating between hurt and anger, waiting for word on an arrest in the case.

Wilson has worked for years to quell gang violence in Minneapolis, to create a safer community for young people.

"When I stepped on that line, that front line, 18 years ago, I was saying: 'Take me. Don't take them.' I'm willing to give my life if it's gonna bring forth change. I would've took 10 of those bullets that they gave to our babies. My baby — this was one of the future leaders. I know it because I was raising her that way."

Anyone with information on the shootings is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

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