East side St Paul residents tell police they don’t feel safe

People filled the seats and stood along the walls of a church basement on St Paul’s east side Thursday to learn more about fatal police shootings of two suspects on the same day last week. Officers shot Victor Gaddy, 41, after he allegedly tried to ram officers with his car. A few hours later, officers shot Chue Xiong, 22, several times after they say he shot at them. Also, earlier this summer a 19-year-old woman was killed in a homicide in the neighborhood.

St Paul police Chief Tom Smith, many of his top commanders, and several elected officials attended the meeting. Police didn’t allow cameras into the room, where they handed out slips of paper for people who wanted to ask questions but didn’t want to identify themselves or speak in front of others. Residents said they’ve seen people flashing guns and gang signs. They complained about a lack of communication from police. And residents said when they asked for help, officers and city employees were rude.

“Are my kids allowed to go outside right now? No. Am I terrified when I see a police go down the street? I’m beyond terrified,” one woman said. “What I witnessed, what I went through, it was like a movie. And I wasn’t treated very well by your fellow officers that I thought I could lean on for support.”

Another woman said her husband and 2-year-old were outside in their yard minutes before one of the police-involved shootings.

“There were bullets riddling our front yard. And I don’t think anybody has ever apologized for it,” she said. “There was nothing ever said to us. There were policemen trampling through our home. No one ever said ‘gosh, you know what, I’m really sorry we got mud all over your house.'”

St Paul Police Chief Tom Smith said his department will respond to the residents’ concerns.

“We will reach out to you and we will make things better. I promise you that. I expect you to hold me accountable as your chief of police,” he said. “I’m very proud of each one of you for being here and sharing. That doesn’t happen everywhere, and that makes me proud to wear this uniform even when maybe we haven’t done things the way we should do them.”

Area police Commander Joe Neuberger said the police department would be sticking its head in the sand if it didn’t acknowledge there are issues in the neighborhood.

“Yeah, I would be concerned. Would I put up brick walls, and lock myself in a house, absolutely not,” he said. “I have not changed how I do businesses because of what’s gone on. I’m comfortable that the east side is predominantly a nice place to be.”

Neuberger said Officer Daniel King, who was shot in the Chue Xiong incident, had been released from the hospital Thursday afternoon.