Stories from people impacted by gun violence

Someone new lives in the Northeast apartment that belonged to Eulalio Gonzalez-Sanchez, who was killed in a 2014 robbery a block from the door. But the new resident is no stranger to gun violence either.

Timothy Martin has been shot twice. At age 17 in Flint, Mich., he said he was walking down the street and met a spray of gunfire intended for someone else. Then at age 18 in Indianapolis, he said he kicked a man out of his apartment who wanted to gamble over a chess game. Martin said later that night, he opened the door and was hit with a shot to his stomach and spine.

Although the incidents are 30 years old, they’re still a major part of Martin’s life. He has night terrors. Nearly 100 shotgun pellets are still embedded in his body. He takes medicine for back pain. Relationships are hard, because he’s spent so many years bottling up the shooting experiences and trying to forget about them. He deals with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“People in urban areas and rough areas get PTSD too,” he said. “…Sometimes when you live in a rough neighborhood, you think it’s not going to affect you, but it does.”

Jessie McDaniel of North Minneapolis said he feels blessed to reach age 22.

“When I was growing up, I was nervous as hell walking through North Minneapolis, because who knows?” he said.

He said violence alters the mentality of some young people, particularly kids who expect to die young.

“They get that mentality, where like, ‘F*** it, I ain’t afraid to die. So I’m gonna carry a gun. And I’m not gonna fight you, I’m gonna kill you.’ And you get to that mentality after you see your friends get killed, after your cousins get killed, after your brothers get killed. There’s no more fighting. There’s just gunplay,” he said.

McDaniel’s brother Anthony Titus was killed at age 16 in the summer of 2010.

“My brother was just walking down the street, going to a graduation party and shots let off and he was the one hit,” he said.

Titus was never part of a violent lifestyle, he said.

“My brother wasn’t in a gang. He was a hockey player, a babysitter, a little brother, Prince Charming to most of the ladies. He was just a cool dude,” he said. “I was the one in the gangs and sh** — like I wasn’t really gangbanging but I was into getting money.”

McDaniel said it’s hard to see Facebook posts calling for the shooter to be freed.

“I always felt like over [in] North, when people get killed, I ain’t gonna lie, they really don’t be finding the murderers. It’s a lot of murderers who still out in North Minneapolis walking around, living life. Everybody in the hood know, dude ass killed so-and-so. Don’t be smooth around him.”

When McDaniel thinks about what might stop the violence, he concludes there would have to be no more guns. No one simply fights anymore, he said.

“When I was growing up, like that’s what it was. I liked to fight. Everybody knew how to fight. If you got beat up, you got beat up,” he said.

But deadly retaliation for violence is the new norm, he said.

“Once blood spills, it’s hard to clean blood off the ground, it’s hard to forget that, so it’s like an ongoing thing,” he said. “Now it’s generational, it’s inherited.”

If someone is killed, he explained, his friends would retaliate in another murder, and the killings would continue back and forth. He said that in some communities, shooters have clout.

“You killing this man because he came up on you and stepped on your shoes, you’re gonna kill him? He’s gonna kill this man over a jersey? I don’t know how it got to that, but I think it’s over a title of being a real … gangster, being real, being hard, being tough,” he said. “That’s like their passage of becoming a man is killing somebody, and going to jail for it, and not telling on anybody. Becoming a man is spending the rest of your life in jail.”

McDaniel said he receives applause for his achievements — he works at community gardens and helps run cooking classes as part of the nonprofit Appetite For Change. But if he was in a gang and on the news, everybody would be talking about it, he said.

“Negative energy brings a bigger crowd,” he said. “If the news was always posting positive sh** people wouldn’t watch it.”

He visited the Black Lives Matter protest last fall at the 4th Precinct. He expected to see lots of youth there, similar to the high school and college students who protested during the Civil Rights Movement. That’s not what he found.

“It was a whole bunch of old people,” he said. “As they [were] protesting about Black Lives Matter, a black dude got killed. A few blocks up the street, got murdered.”

McDaniel still feels nervous occasionally in North Minneapolis. But his work at Appetite For Change helps him focus. He said eating healthier gives him a healthier mentality, prompting him to visit the gym and live a different lifestyle.

“I feel better with myself. Even when sometimes I be in f****ed up situations I just feel better about it, I feel more comfortable,” he said. “I feel happy.”

Though Martin continues to recover from his own gunshot wounds, he said he feels safe now in Northeast. It’s quiet at night. He said having a son at age 25 helped him move on, because it forced him to take responsibility for his child. Now he’s interested in mentoring other young people.

Martin said he isn’t afraid of guns. But if a group of teenagers is causing trouble on the bus, he leaves them alone.

“I understand how young kids are thinking. I was thinking the same way,” he said. “You think you’re invincible, and you can’t get shot, you can’t get hurt.”