A Rochester man is dead and another in critical condition after a dispute over a dice game led to a fistfight, then gunfire.

Two days earlier, a 21-year-old Rochester man suffered non-life threatening injuries when he was shot in a parking lot near the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

A Rochester man is facing a felony charge for allegedly punching a store clerk in the head after he was told the customer service desk was not open to cash his check.

All of this begs the question: Is Rochester safe? Reading the Post Bulletin's daily crime reports can make you wonder. But there is one person who will tell you she feels safe in the city. Surprisingly, it's the person who writes those daily reports, Emily Cutts.

Cutts sees it all: Brutal assaults. Senseless fights. Grisly murders. But she doesn't see a lot of it, and much of it has a common thread.

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"For the most part, Rochester hasn't seen random acts of violence. There may be an occasional assault at a bar, likely following a night of drinking, but normally the violent crime is between people who at least know each other's names," Cutts said.

Rochester Police Capt. Casey Moilanen generally agrees.

"We do occasionally see random acts of violence whereas the victim and suspect don’t know each other, however, it is very rare," he said.

Rochester authorities generally investigate one murder a year, according to Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Uniform Crime Reports from 2015 to 2019. But in 2018, there were five murders in Rochester.

Authorities said it was "definitely an anomaly" and something that hadn't occurred since 2008.

Some other numbers to consider:

  • Robberies fell from 50 in 2015 to 34 in 2019.
  • Burglaries fell from 468 in 2015 to 273 in 2019.
  • Cases of larceny dropped from 1987 in 2015 to 1826 in 2019.

The numbers come with a caveat: The BCA states that comparisons between previous years should be viewed with caution as the way in which crimes are categorized can change from year to year.

No matter how the BCA slices it, the trend in nearly all categories is downward.

But all of that means nothing to the mother of 28-year-old Todd Lorne Banks Jr., who was shot to death after a dispute over a dice game. Following the memorial for her son, Laneice Bryant said her community was "sticking together, working together, coming together like we are supposed to when stuff like this happens."

And even though Rochester might be considered a safe city, one violent crime is one too many.

Police Capt. Jeff Stilwell spoke during the memorial, expressing the department's condolences.

“Many people come here to get away from violence and years and years of feuds and people that don't get along. We can’t bring it here,” he said. “I wish we could have done something more. ... I hope this is the last mother I have to see crying because her son never came home.”

We aren't all safe until everyone feels safe.