A summer under fire (automatic)

Indiscriminate firepower littered crime scenes across the Twin Cities this summer with dozens of shell casings, shattered glass and at times, human carnage.

The bullets hit the houses in the neighborhood, the 4th district north of Minneapolisand downtown shops.

“I thought it was a hailstorm,” Norris Vorasan said after automatic gunfire terrorized his building next to the Nicollet Diner in July.

This shoot set a new record this summer for the most bullets fired at a stage: 177.

Police and federal agents say the firepower level is boosted by a small, nickel-sized device called a switch that turns handguns into automatic machine guns.

The ATF says a nickel-sized device called a switch, or trigger, is powering a dramatic increase in automatic fire this summer. (Courtesy of ATF)

Combined with an extended magazine, a switch allows a shooter to fire dozens of rounds with one pull of the trigger.

“The sheer number of rounds that come out of these fully automatic firearms is very frightening. It’s very dangerous,” said Sgt. Adam Lepinski with the Minneapolis Police Department Firearms Investigation Unit.

“Bullets go everywhere and could potentially hit anyone,” Lepinski said.

While the number of shootings generally increases with temperature during the summer months, investigators say the prevalence of automatic gunfire makes them much more dangerous.

“Now it’s 30, 40, 50 shots fired and 20, 30, 40, 50 shots returned, which is exponentially worse,” said William McCrary, special agent in charge of the St. Paul division. Field of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco. , firearms and explosives (ATF).

5 INVESTIGATES began tracking the prevalence of automatic gunfire in July as the violence continued to frustrate law enforcement, politicians and families.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there were more than 200 cases involving a firearm in Hennepin County, according to a review of court records.

Nearly 50 of these cases involved an extended magazine, machine gun or illegal switch.

“The trendline is hockey stick up,” McCrary said.

McCrary said he’s seen switches made on 3D printers.

Investigators say some switches that turn handguns into machine guns are made on 3D printers. (Courtesy of ATF)

Just this week a 25 year old man was accused of using a printer to make many switches and automatic machine guns out of his Minneapolis home.

According to court records, Aaron Cato had the exhibits mailed to him from Taiwan.

“We not only track the possessors, but their sources of supply,” McCrary said.

A switch by itself is considered a machine gun under federal law.

“I think for young people, it’s a new toy that they’re trying out,” said Lisa Clemons, a former Minneapolis police officer and now a well-known community activist.

Clemons found herself caught in the middle of a shooting this summer while driving on West Broadway Avenue in north Minneapolis. It happened just before a town council meeting where she talked and relived the nightmare.

“My children are traumatized to death. They almost died in my car,” she said, her voice shaking.

Clemons started A Mother’s Love eight years ago to help families and children affected by gun violence.

And now that includes his.

“I tell my kids, ‘Get down, get down. Get down, get down, get down. It was surreal,” she said. “For me, it’s moving. To see how wide my children’s eyes are at that moment.

Clemons believes the continued increase in automatic fire will have a devastating impact on the Twin Cities.

“This is going to bring hell to Minneapolis and Minnesota,” she said. “It will bring living hell to this city in this condition. And we are not ready for that.

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