In August of 2003, I was painting the exterior of a house in north Minneapolis. That area in general is considered to be the most dangerous part of Minnesota and it usually leads the way in crime statistics. It was a two-story, stucco house on Oliver Ave N. I remember that it was a nice day and a perfect one for painting.
The house was located in the middle of a block with about 30 houses.
I was painting the front of the house while standing on my ladder about 15 feet up when I heard a car screech around the corner, followed by the loud sound of the engine as it sped its was down the street. Keep in mind that this was north Minneapolis and a loud car was hardly anything that would make someone turn around to look at.
The car raced on towards the house and at about that time, I heard what sounded like four or five caps going off, similar to the sound of toy cap guns when they are shot. Since I had seen several kids earlier, playing in the yards across the street, I didn’t think anything about the cap gun noises I heard. The car quickly passed by as it sped on down the street.
At that same time, my attention was drawn away from what I was doing and over to the right side of the house. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed small chunks of stucco were falling about 10 to 12 feet away from where I was on the ladder.
Completely unaware of what was going on I leaned back and glanced down at the material that had fallen to the ground and back up to the area it came from. I didn’t see anything out the ordinary and continued on with the painting.
Within about 30 seconds, I heard the sounds of several screen doors slapping shut across the street. I turned my head to look over my shoulder and saw several of the neighbors walking briskly towards each other. Once they were gathered together I noticed most of them were looking right at me as several more people joined them as they walked up. I just stood there confused while watching the people across the street as they continued to talk quietly. Some of them pointed at me while some of them looked and pointed to both ends of the street. Within about 30 seconds, one of the neighbors from the group who had been pointing at me yelled, “You okay?”
I took an extra second to respond because I was still confused about what the commotion was about. In a baffled tone I yelled back, “Me?” The woman who asked if I was okay yelled back, “Yeah…You.” I don’t remember saying anything back to them as I climbed down the ladder and cautiously walked across the street to where they were standing. As I got close to the curb of the street, two or three of them quickly turned their heads towards both ends of the street as I walked towards them.
When I walked up to them one of them asked again, “You okay?” I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Yeah…Why?” The woman said, “Oh my God, you are lucky.” I looked at several of them still confused when one of them said, “Oh my God, you got shot at.” I didn’t know what to think and said, “I did?” All of them nodded and the one woman told me that she had been sitting on her porch, watching her kids play when that car had come down our street. She told me that she didn’t see how many people were in the car but guessed there had been at least three. “They were right about there (pointed to the street) when I heard them shoot. I ducked down right away until they were gone.”
I said to them, “What? They SHOT at me?” She replied, “They had to shoot at you because my kids pointed at you when I got back up to see if they were ok.”
To this day, I still don’t know how to describe the feeling that came over me right then.
I think it was a combination of feelings I got as several of us walked across the street to look at the house. I felt lucky knowing I was apparently shot at but I was okay. When we looked at the stucco on the ground and then up at the house where the pieces had fallen from, I got a chill that ran through my body because that is when the reality of what happened, hit me. We found three places where the bullets had hit the stucco.
I quickly gathered up my equipment, loaded the truck and left.
To this day, I have no idea why I was the target in a drive by shooting and I have not been back to north Minneapolis since then. Every time I think back about that incident, I get a sort of creepy feeling, thinking about how quickly it happened and had those three bullets been ten feet to the left…
Well, let’s just say that I am happy that those bullets ended up in the stucco.