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U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Republican challenger in Minnesota expressed shock over the “senseless act of violence” that left one of his teenage campaign workers dead and another wounded.
The campaign for Republican candidate Lacy Johnson, who is challenging the Democrat in Minnesota’s 5th District, did not believe the shooting of the two staffers had “any connection to their work,” in comments made on Twitter Wednesday. Andre Conley, a 17-year-old outreach coordinator for Lacy’s campaign, died after being shot along with another staffer while outside a gas station in north Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reported.
“Today we are shocked and saddened to learn of this senseless act of violence. It is shocking and unnecessary acts of violence like this that prove why change is more needed than ever in our community…,” Johnson’s campaign said in a statement. There did not appear to be any statements from Omar’s office about the tragic death of the teenager.
The shootings did not occur during a campaign event or outreach and we do not believe it has any connection to their work for the campaign.”
— Lacy Johnson (@LacyJohnsonMN) September 16, 2020
Conley was reportedly outside of a North Side convenience store when a green truck pulled up and someone began firing a gun. The 17-year-old, who was a senior at Patrick Henry High School, was rushed to the hospital after responding police tried to revive him, but died. Another man who was also shot was treated at the hospital for serious gunshot injuries but is expected to survive, according to police.
“We can confirm that the victims of this senseless violence were young, motivated [paid] members of the Lacy Johnson campaign outreach team,” the campaign said in a statement.
We have also been in discussions with members of the community who have detailed knowledge of the sources of the sometimes violence in our communtiy.
We’ve been in contact with local/national officials to both sort out the situation and discuss short and long-term solutions.
— Lacy Johnson (@LacyJohnsonMN) September 16, 2020
Conley is the ninth homicide victim of the year under 18 years old in Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune. Police are still searching for the suspect or suspects involved.
Andre Conley — Say his name
Absolutely tragic https://t.co/l2OaMVoIbi
— Tim Walz Lies (@SKihne) September 16, 2020
“My nephew Andre did not deserve this,” Conley’s aunt, Fatemah Green, told KARE11-TV.
“His infectious smile, his kindness, the way he made people laugh,” Cynthia Aguirre, who had gathered for a vigil on Wednesday, told the station. “He was super excited to just make a change in the community and be part of a bigger thing.”
“I’m not blaming anybody else but us. It’s us. We got to take care of our own kids, we got to look after our own children,” Johnson told those gathered.
“We know this event affects our school community greatly. We all share in the grief and sense of loss, and we are working together to support the family, as well as our students and staff,” Patrick Henry High School officials said in a post on Facebook.
“We have school counselors, social workers and other staff available to speak with students at any time during the day,” the post read.
It is with a heavy heart that we share that we have lost one of our 12th grade students, Andre…
Posted by Patrick Henry High School on Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff told staff in a letter that Conley is the third high school student in the city to be killed in the span of a few weeks in what he called “a relentless and devastating spate of violence this summer.”
“I know it is late, but I have spent much of the day processing how to retain my own hope in what feels like an overwhelming sea of despair, Graff wrote, according to KMSP-TV. “I ask you to join with me in calling for, and supporting, a broad spectrum of community interventions to end this cycle of violence and trauma that impacts so many of our students.”
Dozens of Minneapolis Public Schools principals gathered at the site of the shooting to mourn and demand action to protect children from the senseless violence.
“No child deserves to live where the adults are not in control,” Mauri Friestleben, the North Community High School principal who organized this week’s gathering, told KMSP. “The longer it goes on for, the more children are going to pay the price for it. And I’m not going to stand by and watch it.”
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