On 14th October 2012 a young woman called Naressa “NuNu” Turner, 20, was murdered in a St Paul alleyway. The young lady had been caught up in gangland violence in the Minnesota city. Apparently her killing was in retaliation for another murder that she said she had nothing to to do with.
As it is with such things grieving loved ones are left to try and make sense of it all. Sometimes they hold a vigil, a gathering that is meant to heal the wound violence has caused.
On the third anniversary of the slaying a group came together. According to Ms Turner’s mother it was to be the last one. After that she wanted to leave her daughter in peace. She also wanted to announce an initiative to reduce the chance that guns would claim more neighbourhood lives. At this peaceful event were children and adults, one of them was a 37 year old father of seven, Synika George James.
As the gathering held their thoughts for Ms Turner a car pulled up. Shots echoed off the walls and in the panic Mr James pushed as many children as he could out of the way. Later evidence was recovered that indicated there were two killers. They have not been identified.
Mr James was fatally injured, but lived only long enough to make it to the hospital. Witnesses said that anyone at the vigil could have been killed as the shooters were firing indiscriminately. It was not believed that Mr James was the target.
The original incident that led to Mr James’ death saw a man convicted of murder. Ms Turner and her mother had relocated to Atlanta because of a threat to her life. In one account it is claimed she may have witnessed a killing rather than been involved in one. In October 2012 they made the mistake of returning to St Paul for a visit. Ms Turner was sitting in a car when someone opened the door, said her name and shot her dead.
When I look at that neighbourhood on Google, specifically the junction of Reaney Avenue and Cypress Avenue, it looks like an idyllic area. The houses are large and in their own plots. The grass verges and trees provide the contrast. Unlike our roads in the UK theirs are wide with plenty of parking. I learned long ago from visits to the USA this layout and look can be deceptive. In a news report, that I have linked below, the news crew that was reporting on the murder of Mr James was advised by the police the area was dangerous. They were warned that it might be best for them to leave which they did.
It seems such a shame all around doesn’t it? Especially when you consider that at another vigil not far away someone else was shot and survived. All for standing in memory of a loved one. Crazy world.