Recent attempted abduction in Marcy-Holmes prompts safety discussion

Officials met with community members Monday to discuss safety concerns and recent violent crime in the neighborhood.

A cyclist rides down 5th Street Southeast in Dinkytown on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019.

Image by Jack Rodgers

A cyclist rides down 5th Street Southeast in Dinkytown on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019.

by Taylor Schroeder

Recent violent crimes in Marcy-Holmes have led officials to address community concerns and increase engagement. 

Police and neighborhood officials convened at First Congregational Church Monday to address Marcy-Holmes residents’ safety concerns after an attempted abduction on Sept. 12. Residents asked questions about police staffing, housing regulatory services and population growth.

The attempted abduction took place in the back parking lot of an apartment complex at 410 6th St. SE at 7:10 a.m. as a University of Minnesota student was taking out her trash. The attacker allegedly approached her from behind and put his hand over her mouth before she fought him off of her. He then ran off of the premises. 

There have been two other high-profile incidents at the address in the last year. A high-risk warrant entry on Jan. 24 found an unlicensed firearm and narcotics. The second event occurred when MPD responded to a shooting at 12:28 p.m. on Feb. 16. 

Chris Lautenschlager, executive director of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, said crime tends to be cyclical and typically increases in summer months. While Marcy-Holmes started with one violent crime in January of this year, by July the number of monthly violent crimes peaked at 14.

But year-to-year violent crime in the neighborhood has increased from 46 incidents in 2015 to 71 in 2019 between Jan. 1 and Sep. 17. 

The meeting was led by 2nd Precinct Inspector Todd Loining of the Minneapolis Police Department, who recounted the event and fielded audience questions.

“When I look at the number of calls [from the address], it’s not good but it’s not the worst,” Loining said at the meeting. “We consider ‘problem properties’ based on calls of service, public safety issues and when we have to address something that’s inherently dangerous.” 

On March 6, MPD met with the building’s management to discuss existing security measures and agree on future actions for the building to take. So far, management has installed LED lights on the property and on the street and has prohibited subleasing and short-term rentals in the building. 

Management has not yet installed security cameras in the rear parking lot, but has stated they will be installed by the end of the year.

Residents raised their concerns over the lack of action taken by Steven Scott Management, which has leased the apartments since 1993. Representatives from the company did not attend the meeting. 

In response, the 2nd Precinct held a meeting to discuss the property’s management Tuesday with regulatory services, the city department that handles rental licensing.

“[Tuesday’s] meeting is bringing us all together to say, ‘Okay, what are we doing on this building?’ Every department gives an update, then we decide our next step,” said Nick Juarez, a crime prevention specialist for the 2nd Precinct.

The 2nd Precinct is also holding weekly safety walks beginning Thursday to increase community engagement and deter crime in campus neighborhoods. 

Ward 3 City Council member Steve Fletcher, who represents Marcy-Holmes, held his own safety walks over the summer to address concerns downtown. He said increased police staffing downtown and in other areas won’t necessarily deter crime. 

“On our walks, we would pause and I would say ‘take a look around, how many officers can you see?’ Sometimes you couldn’t see very many, sometimes there would be multiple,” Fletcher said. “So if something happened right here, it probably wasn’t a staffing issue.”

But MHNA board member Barbara Camm said she doesn’t think police staffing in the area is adequate, especially given the new residents that recent developments could bring.  

“We are talking about the fact that we are adequately staffed in terms of police, I hardly ever see them anymore,” she said. “There’s a building proposal on the corner of 4th Street and 15th Avenue that could add a thousand people. What is going to happen?”