MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - A $180,000 reward is now being offered for information that will lead to arrests in the shootings of three children in Minneapolis this spring.
The Minneapolis Police Department and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, along with the families of the three victims, held a news conference Monday afternoon to formally announce the reward as well as a billboard campaign that will launch this week featuring the rewards.
Over the course of three weeks in April and May, 6-year-old Aniya Allen, 9-year-old Trinity Ottoson-Smith and 10-year-old Ladavionne Garret Jr. were shot in north Minneapolis. Both Trinity and Aniya died from their injuries.
The Minneapolis Police Department is investigating all three cases, which they saw were the result of gun violence allegedly among rival gangs and the children were unintended targets, complicating efforts to get witnesses to talk or turn in those responsible.
"This silence is killing our family," said Sharrie Jennings, Ladavionne’s grandmother, said at Monday's press conference. She described an agonizing 100 days since her grandson was shot.
"When are y’all going to say something?" she asked. "When is somebody going to say something? We deserve answers. We deserve to know. These are kids shot in the head."
There have been some leads, but no arrests in the three unsolved shootings. Authorities and the children’s loved ones are now hoping money talks.
"There have been a number of leads," said MPD Deputy Chief Kathy Waite. "There is evidence, but we need more from the community. More from community to share more information so we can help these families out."
"There should be no secrets," Jennings said. "These were kids. These were babies. They didn’t deserve it. Why the code of silence for our babies? They didn’t deserve this. $180,000. You will remain anonymous. Say something, do something, give us some type of closure, please."
Spotlight on Crime and Crime Stoppers are offering the combined $180,000 reward. Call 1-800-222-8477 or visit CrimeStoppersMN.org. The BCA says this is the largest Spotlight on Crime reward ever offered in Minnesota. Officials are hoping the large financial reward will motivate someone with information on the shootings to come forward.
Ladavionne Garrett Jr. – April 30
Ladavionne was shot in the head while riding in the car with his parents. The shooting happened near the intersection of North 35th Avenue and Morgan Avenue North.
Ten-year-old Ladavionne Garrett, Jr. is fighting for his life after getting shot in the head in Minneapolis in April 2021. (Family)
The shooting left the 10-year-old in a coma and fighting for his life. In late July, his family said he had lifted his head on his own, a promising sign for his recovery.
Trinity Ottoson-Smith – May 15
Trinity Ottoson-Smith has passed away from her injuries nearly two weeks after she was shot while jumping on a trampoline. (Family)
On May 15, Trinity was jumping on a trampoline at a friend’s birthday part with other children when she was struck by a bullet in the 2200 block of Ilion Avenue North. She was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition and died from her injuries 12 days later.
Aniya Allen – May 17
Aniya Allen, 6, was shot in the head while she was in a vehicle in north Minneapolis on May 17, 2021. (Family)
The shooting occurred around 11 p.m. on the 3500 block of Penn Avenue North. Aniya was eating McDonald’s in the backseat of her mom’s car on the way home from a day at the lake when the car was struck by gunfire.
Aniya’s mother drove her straight to the hospital, where she later died from her injuries.
Aniya is also the granddaughter of longtime community activist KG Wilson.