A suspect has been arrested and charged in the fatal shooting at Raspberry Island in late August that killed 20-year-old Blake Swanson during a robbery.
The suspect, Christopher Dewayne Jones, 31, is a felon prohibited from possessing firearms and was out of custody on parole at the time of the murder.
Charges say at around 3:15 a.m. on Aug. 29, 2021, officers were sent to Raspberry Island in St. Paul on a report of a shooting.
Police arrived to find Swanson motionless in a pool of blood outside of a vehicle where two others were trying to apply pressure to a gunshot wound to Swanson’s neck. Swanson was transported to the hospital but was pronounced deceased.
Jones, of St. Paul, is facing four felony charges of second-degree murder with intent, second-degree murder while committing a felony, second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and first-degree aggravated robbery.
Swanson, of Bethel, had arrived at Raspberry Island in a vehicle with his girlfriend and another friend who was driving, publicly identified as Evan Meide. The group had planned to meet friends at the location to ride scooters. Swanson and his girlfriend were asleep in the vehicle when Meide parked beneath the Wabasha Bridge, according to the criminal complaint.
Meide later told police that he noticed a silver SUV, possibly a Tahoe or Suburban, with tinted windows in the parking lot when they arrived.
Meide got out of the vehicle and walked up the stairs of the bridge in search of a Lime Scooter. Meide said he thought he heard a gunshot but thought the sound had come from downtown.
When Meide arrived back at the vehicle on the scooter, he found Swanson on the ground bleeding and Swanson’s girlfriend crying. The silver SUV was no longer in the parking lot, Meide later told police.
Swanson’s girlfriend subsequently told police that she and Swanson had been asleep in the vehicle. She awoke when she heard the rear passenger door open, where she was asleep. She said she saw a black male with shorter dreadlocks pointing a handgun at her head. The man said, “Give me all your shit. You think I won’t shoot you?”
The man grabbed her phone, and she told the man she didn’t have anything else. The man then patted her down before he got out of the rear passenger seat and opened the front passenger door where Swanson was asleep. The man tried to wake up and search Swanson who woke up and moved his arms around. The girlfriend heard a gunshot and Swanson fell out of the open front passenger seat door onto the ground. The shooter ran to the SUV and got into the rear driver’s side door. The SUV left.
The girlfriend tried to use her sweatshirt to stop Swanson’s bleeding.
Investigators had one fingerprint to go on from the rear door of the vehicle that led them to identify Jones. Cellphone data also placed Jones at the scene.
"They dug and worked and kept digging until they figured out who killed Blake. I'm proud of them and their work. I'm thankful for the support we received from our partners. And I hope this arrest brings some sense of solace to Blake's family." -Chief Todd Axtell
— Saint Paul Police Department (@sppdmn) November 19, 2021
Following Jones’ arrest, he declined to make a statement. However, another male, D.B., was subsequently arrested, and he told police he’d been at a bar with a man he knew as Chris prior to the shooting. D.B. agreed to drive his Suburban to Raspberry Island where Jones was to meet a woman he was dating, the complaint said. That woman’s sister was also present.
After Meide exited the vehicle and went up the stairs, Jones said, “watch this,” and walked up to the vehicle containing Swanson and his girlfriend. D.B. said he heard a shot and Jones returned to the Suburban and pointed a gun at D.B. and told him to leave.
D.B. later identified Jones from a photo line-up as the person who “done the crime.”
Jones has at least three prior felony convictions and is prohibited from possessing firearms. Jones’ most recent felony conviction was in August 2017 on a charge of felon in possession of a firearm.
Jones was sentenced to 60 months in prison on the conviction, which would have left him incarcerated until May 2022. However, Minnesota offenders are only required to serve two-thirds of their sentence incarcerated and the remainder on what Minnesota refers to as supervised release (parole). As such, Jones was released from custody in July 2020 and was placed on supervised release.
Jones remains in custody in Ramsey County Jail on $2.5 million bail and his next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 3.
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