A young life shattered: the shooting of Guadalupe
Guadalupe Galeno-Hernanez, a 12-year-old South Minneapolis girl, was struck in the neck by a drive-by shooter’s stray bullet on Friday night, Nov 12. She was walking with friends. It seems likely that she was the victim of an unlucky accident in gang rivalry and retaliation that has come to dominate that block in South Minneapolis.
The most notorious incident on the block happened with the 2002 murder of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards as she sat at her dining room table doing her homework. Myon Burrell, 16, and a Rolling 30s Bloods member at the time, was convicted of the crime. Unfortunately, that incident was not unique. Sara Bergen, who lives on the 3400 block of Elliot, one block east of Chicago, in an e-mail to the Powderhorn neighborhood forum recalled a string of incidents in and around that block: In 2005 there was a murder at 3500 Columbus. In 2006 a man who lived on the 3500 block of Elliot was shot to death in front of Tony’s market on 35th and Chicago. In 2007 there was a robbery that led to a murder in the 3500 alley between Chicago and Columbus. In 2008 a man died from gunshot wounds in the 3400 alley behind the Atlantic Press (between Chicago and Elliot), and in January 2010 Walter Dolley was shot to death while walking on the 3400 block of Chicago.
Most of those shootings were between African-American gangs—Rolling 30s Bloods, the Crips and the Vice Lords.
Recent gunplay has been between Latin gangs—the Vatos Locos and Sureños 13. Vatos Locos translated means Crazy Dudes, and Sureños means Southerners and the 13 stands for the 13th letter in the alphabet, M, meaning either Mafia or murder or both.
David Hawley, in a 2006 article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, reported: “The Metro Gang Strike Force was undercover, doing surveillance on the Sureño 13 gang, when Lt. Jeff Jindra and his partner saw three members of the rival Vatos Locos pull up in a car and pull out a .357 magnum. ‘We came up as he was pulling out the gun,’ Jindra said.
“The gang strike force said the Sureño 13 members were meeting in Powderhorn Park, planning a trip to St. Paul’s Cinco de Mayo Fiesta. Despite a restraining order to keep away, the gang planned to cause trouble anyway. ‘The Sureños were going over to St. Paul, supposedly going to be armed when they go to the car show tonight,’ Jindra said. Three members of the Vatos Locos were arrested for attempted murder. The Sureños were set free, but
told to stay away from St. Paul. They said they weren’t gang members, and seemed less than appreciative that police intervened.”
Anthony Lonetree reported in the Star Tribune in April of this year: “Two juveniles and two adults with alleged ties to the Vatos Locos street gang were charged in Hennepin County District Court with multiple attempted first-degree murder and drive-by shooting charges in connection with a drive-by shooting, which occurred at 9:50 p.m. in the 8000 block of Portland Avenue S. and targeted four males whom the assailants believed to be Sureños 13 members.”
There was a community meeting in reaction to the shooting of Guadalupe Galeno-Hernandez called by staff at the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association for Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 5 p.m. to meet with the police, but the meeting didn’t seem to quiet neighborhood anxiety. Amy Blumenshine, longtime Powderhorn block leader and activist, summed up her reaction: “The event was the most bizarre of these sorts I’ve ever attended. It appeared to be a media feeding frenzy, media outnumbering residents, and an Uptown couple dominating the attention of the officer. As far as I could tell, there was no reason for residents to be there as there was no information conveyed. Worse, the police officer suggested that they knew things that they weren’t telling us. Billed to begin at 5 p.m., I practically had to insist that we make the event public instead of private conversations with media by 5:25. I refused TV interviews. Felt sensationalized. Waste of time. Whose agenda was served? I asked, ‘Do you have anyone in custody?’ And when Officer Lee Edwards said he couldn’t answer, I pushed, ‘Aren’t arrests public information?’ and, ‘When will you have something to tell us?’ He smilingly refused to answer, dismissing me to the media, ‘Did you put her up to this?’
“Can anybody explain why Lt. Edwards would have a community meeting where no information was conveyed? Timing it at 5 p.m. seemed to make it much more
for newscasts than for community residents.
According to James Schugel of WCCO-TV, “Guadalupe Galeno-Hernanez was walking with her brother and their cousins to their aunt’s home. The girl’s brother said just as the group knocked on the front door, a car pulled up in
front of the home. Someone stuck their gun out the window and fired one shot, which hit Guadalupe Galeno-Hernanez. The bullet hit her spinal cord. She was bleeding from her mouth. ‘It stayed on the spinal cord, so they were not able to take it out,’ said Hilda Galeno-Hernanez (Guadalupe’s mother) about the operation Saturday.
“Knowing her daughter may never walk again is the toughest news for her to take. Even if Guadalupe Galeno-Hernanez regains the ability to walk, it’s no guarantee she’ll be able to dance again.”
The family announced a fund with M&I Bank to help with expenses. Donations can go to any M&I branch with a reference to account number 0055332871. The routing number, which may be necessary for making online donations, is 091001157. It seems MAD DADS are temporarily acting as fiscal agents to allow donations to be tax deductible, so M&I Bank is asking that checks be made out to MAD DADS.
According to Heidi Quezada, staff person for City Council Member Gary Schiff, “Both the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County have been stepping up their gang prevention measures in the last six months. In June, The Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support awarded seven grants for Youth Violence Prevention for a total of $250,000 per year for two years. Also, the Minneapolis Foundation has given grants for gang prevention and specifically for Latino gang prevention. One of the most significant things about having the grants come from the Dept. of Health is that it begins to shift the thinking about gangs from being purely about safety to being about public health as well.”
There are resources enough to solve the problems that create gang violence. The City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the Metropolitan Council and the State of Minnesota could, if they had the will and the leadership, door-knock every home in the Phillips and Powderhorn communities. They could do a needs assessment of troubled families and find jobs, daycare, education, and whatever else it took to get despair off the streets. Kids join gangs because there’s no other alternative. We need to present an alternative, and the City, the County, the Metropolitan Council and the State need to get their act together and start knocking on doors and start talking to young people.
There have been some remarkable successes on the 3400 block on Chicago during the last year. As Sara Bergen notes: “In 2004 (or so) Pillsbury (after receiving a petition from neighbors) put in plantings on the 35th Street side of its building on 35th and Chicago to help prevent future graffiti; around the same time, after gentle encouragement from neighbors, Buck Holzemer, the former owner of the current Steven Be building on 35th and Chicago used the PPNA facade improvement grant to have the tromp l’oeil mural painted; around 2007 Youth Farm painted a mural on the north wall of the building on the SE corner of 34th and Chicago; in the summer of 2007 neighbors planted several big bluestem plants on the 35th street side of the Atlantic Press building; in 2009 Steven Berg bought the building with the tromp l’oeil mural on 35th and Chicago and turned it into Steven Be’s knitting studio and has made numerous exterior improvements; since 2002 neighbors and Councilwoman Glidden worked relentlessly on getting the
abandoned buildings (sans the one directly on the corner which is owned by Reuben Lindh, a social service agency) on the SW corner of 34th and Chicago turned into something positive for the ’hood.
“After multiple delays the City tore down two of the buildings and the former slumlord sold the remaining property to a local developer. Last year it was remodeled and Melody Holt opened the South City Cafe in 2010. Kathleen Sullivan and a few others organized neighborhood residents, including many from the 3400 block of Chicago, and started Paradise Community garden in the empty lot where two
of the abandoned buildings had been torn down; also in 2010, a 40-year resident of the west side of the 3400 block of Chicago, Julie Whiteside, organized the block’s first block club. Just this summer all of Chicago from Lake Street to 38th Street was repaved. It looks (and feels) great.
“I remain baffled as to why this small area (the intersection of 35th and Chicago and a one block radius) continues to experience such a disproportionate amount of gun violence.”