When 41-year-old Trilisa McCray saw dozens of shell casings scattered at the scene of Thursday night’s shooting, she understood why her son wasn’t answering his phone.
“There are a lot of shell casings here. You can’t tell me my child wasn’t hit,” she recalls.
McCray is a member of an anti-gun and violence prevention group called Mother’s Love, and over the course of eight years she has moved from crime scene to crime scene in her hometown of Minneapolis.
“More than I can count,” she told The Daily Beast. “We are working to ease crowds and comfort families.”
Thursday night, I started in a parking lot near Knox Street, where a 16-year-old boy was fatally shot. Then officers on the scene received a report that four people had been shot on Broadway.
“The police just rushed out of here,” she recalls.
Her 24-year-old son spends time in that area, and she called his phone.
“That was a mother’s hunch,” she later said.
There was no response.
“It’s not like my son isn’t answering the phone,” she said.
Other family members began calling her son, whose name she did not want to be mentioned. But he still didn’t answer when she arrived on Broadway. That was when she saw dozens of shell casings that she and law enforcement officials said were a sign of a growing threat on the streets of Minneapolis.
Over the past year, the city has seen a growing use of guns that have been illegally converted from semi-automatic to fully automatic with a penny-sized device dubbed an Auto sear. It’s available for $20 and is known on the street as a “switch”.
Pulling a single trigger releases a full magazine of 15 rounds, sometimes 33 or even as many as 100 rounds. The Minneapolis police report That use of what are essentially machine guns has increased 338 percent over the past year, with 1,799 bullets fired in 171 shootings through July. Homicides in the city are up 18 percent from the average for the previous three years.
“A lot of people get handguns and use keys,” McCray said.
Minneapolis police and the ATF are working to address the problem of semi-automatic weapons converted into submachine guns. A 25-year-old Minneapolis man was charged in federal court Wednesday with using a 3D printer to make cars in his home.
But the “switch” shootings are ongoing and deadly submachine guns often hit innocent bystanders. McCray felt certain Thursday night that her son was among them.
“I can hardly breathe,” she recalls. “I will lose my mind.”
She was told that no one was taken in her son’s name by ambulance. But he was still not answering his phone, and I decided he might have taken some other form of transportation. She went to a hospital and was directed to another, which confirmed that her son was there.
“The doctor came and said, “It’s a miracle that he’s alive because where he’s injured, people don’t make it.”“
“When they said, ‘Yeah, I fell on my knees and started crying,'” McCray recalls. “And I tell them, ‘I told you all my baby was hit. I told you all, there were a lot of covers. And they said he had to have surgery because he was shot. in his chest.”
Her son underwent surgery for at least four hours. She did not receive any information about his condition until the surgeon appeared.
“The doctor came and said, ‘It’s a miracle that he’s alive because in the place where he was injured, people don’t survive that,'” she recalls.
She was allowed to see her son in the recovery room. He was in severe pain. He told her that after the bullet landed on him and slammed into the ground, he was visited by a cousin who was shot and killed in 2014.
McCray remembers,” and I asked him, ‘What did she say?’ ‘ He said, ‘She kept telling me to come back.’ He said she hugged him.”
McCray later told The Daily Beast, “My son was dying. When he collapsed on that floor, he was dying near death. But she came to him. So this was the angel who was guarding him when he was injured.”
He was left with firsthand knowledge that a bullet could come out of nowhere at any time and hit anyone. This included his mother. And now he’s worried if you don’t get back to the hospital at 8 a.m. when visiting hours start.
“He’s worried,” McCray said. “And he doesn’t want the nurses to do anything until I’m there with him.”
On Tuesday, he noticed that McCray wasn’t wearing false eyelashes like she usually does.
“My son was like, ‘Mom, where are your eyelashes?'” she recalls. “I said, I yelled them.” He said, “Well, did you do it?” I said: I won’t finish work until you come home. As long as you’re in that hospital bed, I’ll keep crying.”
Police say the shooting is still an ongoing investigation. They are also investigating the Friday shooting of four people down the street where McCray’s son was nearly killed. A 34-year-old man died. Among the wounded were two pregnant women, one of whom was 21, and the other only 17.
McCray hopes her son will come home on Friday. She will then be able to stop crying and put on her signature eyelashes. You will resume the transition from shooting scene to shooting scene, seeking to calm others suffering from the trauma you now know so well in the ever more deadly city of deadly weapons.