A Fridley felon who allegedly fired “celebratory” rounds from an AR-15 rifle in north Minneapolis minutes after midnight on New Year’s Day that struck an 11-year-old in the face has now been charged in federal court with being a felon in possession of ammunition.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Andrew Luger announced the charge against 44-year-old James William Turner in a press release on Tuesday.
Turner has been in custody since last Wednesday after Minneapolis police tracked him down following witness statements identifying him as the shooter.
Police say the bullet came through the front of the house.
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The 11-year-old girl was injured by a bullet that came through the front of the family’s home on the 2300 block of Bryant Avenue North just minutes after midnight on New Year’s Day and struck her while she was in her second-story bedroom. The girl told police that she heard gunfire and went to the window to look and was struck by a bullet.
Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said in a press conference following the arrest that the girl sustained bullet fragments in her face.
“It’s only by the grace of God that we are here today to talk about this as an injury and not as the first murder of a new year,” O’Hara said. “This shooting happened and this child was injured because of absolutely reckless celebratory behavior.”
Chief O’Hara said they believed alcohol was also involved as part of the episode. O’Hara also indicated it was far from the only incident of reckless gunfire going off in north Minneapolis and other areas of the city at the time.
“Unfortunately, for too long, the sound of gunfire is all too common on certain blocks in certain neighborhoods, so common that it becomes regular background noise. But let me be clear: it is totally not normal to have an 11-year-old child shot in the face through her bedroom window,” O’Hara said.
Turner was initially charged in Hennepin County District Court with felony counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and reckless discharge of a firearm in a municipality. He has since been transferred to Sherburne County Jail on the new federal charge where he remains in custody.
According to information contained in the state and federal charges, officers obtained a Snapchat video of Turner that was filmed just prior to the shooting. The two-minute video showed Turner outside, near the victim’s residence, arguing with an unknown individual before the camera turned to show an AR-style rifle lying across the driver’s seat of a vehicle. A neighbor also provided officers with a doorbell surveillance video that showed Turner fire multiple rounds in the direction of the victim’s bedroom window. Officers found eight live cartridges and 24 discharged cartridge casings throughout the boulevard, sidewalk, and yard.
Turner is prohibited from possessing firearms due to prior violent crime convictions.
A search of state court records shows that Turner was just convicted in Anoka County District Court in July on a felony charge of second-degree assault. However, Turner’s 46-month prison sentence was stayed in a downward departure from sentencing guidelines by Judge Dyanna L. Street. Under the terms of a plea deal in the case, other felony charges of felon in possession of a firearm and threats of violence were dismissed. Turner was instead credited with 170 days already spent in jail and was placed on probation for five years.
A GoFundMe page posted by the family said the girl underwent surgery last week but was left with a small piece of bullet fragment in her face and indicated that doctors were unable to safely remove it. The girl, who turned 12 late last week, is expected to recover from her injuries.
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