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Minneapolis neighborhood stunned by violence
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A memorial to Todd Copeland. (MPR Photo/Brandt Williams)
Three homicides and several shootings in a little over 24 hours have stunned the north side of Minneapolis. The rash of violence has led to renewed calls for deeper police-community cooperation. In the meantime, community members and relatives of victims are taking time to grieve.

Minneapolis, Minn. — On Wednesday night someone shot and killed 12-year-old Jacquesa Patterson's uncle. Todd Copeland was involved in a dispute involving some bicycles, when a man pulled a gun and shot him.

On Friday, Jacquesa was singing and holding hands with members of her family and with people she's never met before. They gathered for an impromptu memorial service near where Copeland fell.

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Image City Councilmember Don Samuels

On Wednesday, the same evening Copeland was gunned down, a young man was shot and wounded on the front lawn of a house about 12 blocks away. In an unrelated incident, one of the residents of that same house was shot in the neck with a BB gun as he rode his skateboard down 26th Avenue.

On Thursday afternoon, a body was discovered in a city-issued garbage can. Investigators say the victim was an adult male, who appeared to have been dead for at least a day. A 15-year-old girl was shot and wounded. And, a young man was shot and killed in broad daylight on West Broadway Avenue.

City Councilmember Don Samuels has held day-long vigils near the sites of every homicide in his ward since he took office last year. Samuels will stay busy this week, as all of the recent killings have happened in his ward, and all happened within a half-mile radius. Samuels was visibly upset. Wiping away tears, he tried to explain why these things happen.

"I think that our young people are demonstrating -- and the people in the community are demonstrating -- what happens when not enough people have cared for you in your life. Then life is not worth much," Samuels said.

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Image Jacquesa Patterson

Samuels says he hopes that the public outpouring of grief will help show the family that other people care about what happens to them.

"And then that's going to change their interpretation of their value to themselves and that's going to probably alter their behavior in how they treat their neighbor who looks just like them, tomorrow and the days ahead."

Following the memorial, community members, and Copeland's family talked, hugged and cried. There were tears on the faces of nearly everyone in the street. The shooting inspired Copeland's niece, Jacquesa Patterson, to write a poem.

"It's OK to cry because we are all here to help you relieve your pain. When you need a shoulder to lean on, we will be here to help you gain; help you gain all the trust you had in us. It's funny how you can see someone one day and the next time you hear from them, they're in heaven looking down on you, making sure you're OK. But it's alright because all the violence is going to end today. Why do we all die so soon? You aren't even able to look into the sky and see the moon. Please look, just tell me why -- why we all have to die. It's OK I'll be listening. It's OK to cry."

Minneapolis police officials say they have arrested a suspect in the shooting death of Todd Copeland. They're asking the public to help them find more suspects in this and the other shootings.

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