Brasel’s murder reverberates in community

By Gustav Demars

The death of Michael Brasel, who family members say was shot while interrupting a young intruder breaking into his wife’s car on the morning of May 6, has brought public safety to the forefront of the minds of many in the St. Anthony Park community.

Despite Brasel’s tragic death, St. Paul crime statistics indicate the neighborhood remains a relatively low crime area.

Some residents attended a recent public meeting of the St. Anthony Park Community Council to voice concerns about crime and safety in the neighborhood. St. Paul Police Department West District Watch Commander Stacy Murphy and Patty Lammers, a city crime prevention coordinator, attended the meeting, providing crime statistics and answering attendees’ questions.

Lammers said when witnessing potential criminal behavior, it’s important to be aware of the situation.

“The most important thing is you and your family,” Lammers said. “Cars can be replaced, purses can be replaced — that’s just stuff. You’re the most important thing. So trust your gut if you don’t feel comfortable going out into that situation. Stay where you are. Just be a good witness and call us.”

As of June 1, city police data shows 33 officially reported crime incidents in St. Anthony Park this year, down from 91 at the same time last year.

Notably, auto thefts are down 60% and larceny and theft offenses are down 57% from the same period in 2022. Police also reported only two assault offenses in 2023, down from 11 in the first six months of last year.

Despite recording two homicides in the past two years, St. Anthony Park has seen fewer than many other neighborhoods in the city. In March 2022, a little over a year before Brasel’s shooting, St. Anthony Park saw its first homicide since 1997, according to police spokeswoman Alyssa Arcand.

So far in 2023, St. Paul has recorded 16 homicides across all its neighborhoods.

St. Anthony Park Community Council Board member Cambray Crozier said the most outstanding effect she’s personally seen on the community is how widely the tight-knit community has grieved Brasel’s death.

“I think the grief around the loss of someone of his stature in the community, and the many roles he played and the meaning of those roles — like being a dad, a hockey coach, a neighbor and a long-time resident — also means he had a breadth of relationships,” Crozier said. “So that loss was felt and compounded in many different parts of the community.”

Crozier said the rarity of an event like Brasel’s shooting makes it hard for the community to grapple with its cause and what can be done to prevent similar crimes from happening in the future. She said she’s heard thoughtful conversations about different aspects of public safety, such as creating a welcoming community where people know and look out for each other, and law enforcement presence.

“I think that’s been the biggest thing I’ve reflected on — that at the community level, all of those elements are important and can have influence and impact on one another,” Crozier said.

Methodology: St. Paul Police Department provided official data sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and FBI as a part of the National Incident-Based Reporting System, which collects detailed and standardized crime data on a national scale. Year-to-date crime data for St. Anthony Park for 2022 and 2023 runs through June 1 of each year. 

Gustav Demars is a fourth-year journalism student at the University of Minnesota’s Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He is participating in the Bugle’s student journalism intern program with the university.

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