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'This Has Been A Very Dynamic And Challenging Year For The City': Leaders Address St. Paul's Homicide Rate

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — St. Paul wraps up 2019 with a record no one wants. At least 30 people were killed across the Capital City, the most gun violence it's seen since 1992.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield looks back at a year full of tears and the split vision for hope.

Homicides doubled from 15 in 2018 to 30 in 2019. On New Year's Eve, Chief Todd Axtell sat down to talk about the numbers.

WCCO asked him what he wanted the people of St. Paul to know.

"This has been a very dynamic and challenging year for the city of St. Paul," Axtell said. "We know that crime rates do ebb and flow and what I do know is 30 people have lost their lives at the hands of violence in the city of St. Paul in the year 2019 and we are doing everything we can to make sure that never happens again in this city."

Just to name a few; St. Paul saw the death of Sibley student Da'Qwan Jones-Morris, who officers say was killed while friends were playing with a stolen gun.

And then there was the death of Javier Sanmiguel, who was killed in a drive-by while trying to assist in a car accident.

27 of the 30 homicides involved guns.

"We are focusing very deliberately on people who should not be carrying the firearms, people who have [used] the firearms to commit violence in the past and people we believe will become victims of gun violence in our city," said Axtell.

St. Paul's mayor has spoken out on crime, too, denying the Chief's request for new officers, spending money instead on community programs.

"We need a new approach, seemingly what we have done for the last 30 years hasn't gotten us to the solution we want to be at so we have to blaze a new trail in our city," Mayor Carter said earlier this month.

"It's good to have differing opinions when it comes to such an important topic," Chief Axtell said.

He says he and the mayor will work together, "That will never change. The mayor and I are working collaboratively to make sure everyone stays safe in this city and I want people to know that they are safe."

Minneapolis has also seen an uptick in violent crime this year.

At least 47 people have been killed. That's a 40% jump from last year... but on pace with the year before.

If you want to visualize this year's data, we've made maps of the fatal shootings in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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