Weekend Shootings Last Straw for Minneapolis Craft Brewer

The wild west-style shootouts in north Minneapolis over the weekend killed four and wounded six more. But there’s another side to the violence that doesn’t appear on the police blotter. Residents so scared and fed up they’re moving out before they become a statistic, including a business owner featured on WCCO radio.

The Friday night shooting left 42-year-old Steven Fields of Richfield dead on a sidewalk and wounded three others.

Another causality of the shooting – Boom Island Brewing Company – whose owner says they‘re tired of the crime and it’s time to pack up and leave. The shooting happened just a few feet away from their building.

Minneapolis authorities point out that violent crime has actually decreased somewhat over 2017. But tell that to law-abiding citizens caught up in the war zone.

“We’re in the middle of an industrial nothingness,” said Kevin Welch, owner of Boom Island Brewing. “The problem is we got heroin, crack cocaine, and all sorts of crystal meth deals going on left and right every single night.”

Welch said when he opened up the business on Washington Avenue in 2011, he hoped to transform the area. “I’m building a little bit of Belgium right here in north Minneapolis,” he said. He now dreams of opening up a taproom that doesn’t have to close at 9 pm for customers’ safety.

“At 9 o’clock in the evening the taproom hours are just getting rockin and rollin,” said Welch. “On a great weekend we’ll get 35 to 40 people walking through the door. Because they’re afraid to come to North Minneapolis.”

Following the carnage, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey promised a crackdown. But local pols’ pronouncements lack credibility with a resident quoted in the Star Tribune.

Lynne Crockett, a lifelong North Sider, said residents are growing jaded by years of violence and unfulfilled promises from politicians to do something about it.

Crockett said she has been to countless meetings with officials “who say your input is valued and important, therefore you should come, you should talk, you should fill out this survey, whatever.”

But, she said, “when it’s all said and done, nothing changes.”

Not everyone has the option of packing up. But Boom Town Brewing’s owner figures he’d rather go out on his own two feet than in a body bag.

Welch commends Minneapolis’ Fourth Precinct for stepping up patrols, but says for the last eight months he’s been begging the city to put up mobile cameras. He says finally, after Friday’s shooting, there’s one there.

However, for Welch it’s too little, too late and now he’s looking to relocate. As of Tuesday, he’ll begin looking at new properties and he’s already been approached by businesses in Plymouth and Minnetonka. Welch plans to launch a crowd-sourcing campaign to raise funds and hopes to relocate by end of the year.

“It’s a bad neighborhood, I know that. I knew that when I was getting into it,” said Welch. “It’s a total shame.”