Twin Cities weekend crime recap

Two people were stabbed to death in St. Paul, a three-year-old was shot in Minneapolis, a Minnesota mayor was arrested, and more.

Crime recap
Vehicle window damaged in south Minneapolis (Submitted to Crime Watch)

Pheng Yang, 38, has been charged in Ramsey County Court after Roseville police say they engaged in a standoff situation with him for over an hour early Thursday morning. Charges say police responded about 12:50 a.m. Thursday to an apartment complex on the 2200 block of Pascal Street on a report that someone was outside clipping screens. Police found a window that had been partially pried open with the sheath of a large knife.

Pheng Yang (Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

Police located an unoccupied vehicle in the parking lot of a person they had twice encountered earlier following reports of a suspicious person at a Roseville business who was frightening employees, and again after a suspicious vehicle report at University of Northwestern in Roseville. In both encounters, Yang was acting erratically; in the first incident, he was wielding a wrench. When police encountered him the second time, Yang was acting paranoid and had several knives visible in his vehicle at the university. He told police he didn’t want to go to a shelter but agreed to go to Regions Hospital for treatment and drove from the area.

Police searched the area of the apartment burglary with a police K9 and drone but did not immediately locate Yang.

A short time later, Yang returned to the vehicle and police approached and ordered him not to move. Instead, Yang accelerated through the grass and nearly struck the building and continued to flee. Yang eventually pulled over near Commerce Street and Albert Street North and turned off the car but refused to comply with further commands. Yang repeatedly yelled at officers that he was going to kill them and fled again. Officers stopped the vehicle with a pursuit intervention technique (PIT), and Yang still refused to exit and continued yelling. Negotiations continued for another hour to persuade Yang to exit the vehicle. Ramsey County SWAT was eventually called, and Yang was finally taken into custody. A large knife was found wedged next to the driver’s seat of Yang’s car.

Yang, of Stockton, Calif., was charged Friday with felony counts of threats of violence and fleeing police. The charging document states Yang has a California criminal record including auto theft and battery (assault). Yang made his first court appearance on Friday and was granted a public defender. A competency evaluation was also ordered to determine Yang’s mental fitness to stand trial. Yang remained in custody as of Monday morning, but court records show that Judge Adam Yang signed an order for conditional release with zero bail required.

St. Louis Park police reported that on Wednesday, Oct. 19 about 5:51 a.m., officers responded to the area of the 4000 block of Xenwood Avenue South after a resident called to report seeing a male moving through neighbors’ yards with a flashlight, activity the resident thought was unusual. Officers arrived and located a male matching the description provided by the resident. The individual was inside a resident’s garage and exiting as officers made contact with him. Following an investigation by officers on scene, the individual was arrested for burglary and transported to the Hennepin County Adult Detention Facility, SLPD said.

Jail records show that Christopher Scott Briley, 50, of Sioux Falls, S.D., was arrested and booked on probable cause burglary. However, court records show he was subsequently charged on Thursday with only a misdemeanor count of trespassing. Briley was granted a public defender and was conditionally released from custody with zero bail required by Judge Edward Thomas Wahl after making an initial court appearance. A booking photo of Briley was not immediately available.

(Warning: Graphic child abuse) Terrance Valdez Leslie, 26, was charged in Ramsey County Court Thursday with second-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend’s 17-month-old daughter at their Maplewood residence last week.

Terrance Valdez Leslie (MN Dept. of Corrections)

Leslie, a lifetime violent offender, is accused of engaging in repeated acts of abuse against the child, including sexual assault, some of which the complaint states he filmed on his phone.

Police had been called to the apartment at 1492 County Road B East on Oct. 18 for a report of a child with serious burn injuries. Leslie told police he’d been caring for the child while the child’s mother was at work. Leslie said the child fell into the bathtub after he walked away while it was filling. Leslie told police the child’s skin peeled off as he was trying to dry her. However, police found no evidence of water in the tub or wet towels in the bathroom. Police later found Leslie’s phone contained a Google search about the degree of burns caused by “boiling water.”

When medics removed the child’s clothes, they found dark bruises all over her back and abdomen. The child later died at the hospital.

Leslie said he called the child’s mother after the incident, and she immediately came home. The mother, who is named in the complaint but has not been charged, told police that she had been trying to arrange a ride to the hospital.

The emergency room physician advised that many of the bruises all over the child’s body were old, indicating ongoing physical abuse. In addition, there were fresh bruises to the child’s face. The doctor also noted blood behind the child’s eardrum, indicating a brain injury.

The complaint also described graphic abuses discovered on video clips on Leslie’s phone.

The child’s mother eventually admitted to police that Leslie had punched and kicked her, sometimes while she was holding the child and the child was also struck by the blows.

The complaint stated the cause of death was determined to be multiple traumatic injuries due to assault, with external injuries to the face, shoulder, chest, and right forearm, and internal bleeding in the brain and lacerations to the thymus gland and liver and adrenal gland, and fractures to the right ulna and radius. The autopsy also noted injuries to the child’s genital area and anus/rectum consistent with sexual assault.

The criminal complaint detailed Leslie’s criminal history dating back to the age of 12, including threats of violence and felon in possession of a firearm. As an adult, Leslie has been convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm in two cases. In one of the cases, Leslie was charged with attempted murder for shooting a man during a robbery. That charge was dismissed in a plea deal. Leslie is currently on parole and was last released from prison under supervision in Feb. 2021. Leslie remains in custody on $2 million bail.

Two people were stabbed to death Thursday afternoon in St. Paul at a residential sober living facility on the 1100 block of Lawson Avenue East in the city’s Payne-Phalen neighborhood, and the person charged has several open violent crime cases in Hennepin County and was recently found mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Joseph Francis Sandoval II, 32, was encountered by police exiting the residence as they arrived upon the scene. Sandoval had blood on his clothing and cuts to his face and hands and appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance. Sandoval told officers that he had ingested fentanyl, according to murder charges later filed in Ramsey County Court.

Joseph Francis Sandoval II (Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

Charges say police were dispatched to the address after a report of a man screaming that a person had killed someone inside the home. After encountering and detaining Sandoval, officers found two people dead in pools of blood inside the house, one in an upstairs bedroom and another in the basement. Both men appeared to die from multiple lacerations and stab wounds, many to the neck and head.

Sandoval told police he had just been moved to the sober house and did not know anybody at the house. Sandoval told police he was hearing noises and said the TV told him to “take your opportunity, so I took my opportunity.”  When asked what he meant, Sandoval said, “The TV said they’re going to kill me. When I was watching Dragon Ball Z.”  He repeated, “The TV said they were gonna kill me and told me to take the opportunity.”

One of the men killed was another resident at the facility, and the other was a handyman on site performing work inside the residence, the owner of the sober house told police.

Sandoval has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the case and remains in Ramsey County Jail on $2 million bail. The homicides were numbers 30 and 31 for the city of St. Paul this year.

Sandoval was charged in Hennepin County Court last year with first- and second-degree assault and auto theft following a violent driving rampage through Minneapolis and Edina in a stolen vehicle. Dispatch audio at the time and charges later filed say Sandoval drove on sidewalks and bike paths, rammed a squad and other vehicles and eventually ran down a pedestrian twice before being apprehended after smashing through the steel doors of a downtown Minneapolis federal government parking garage. That case is still pending as are two other cases in which Sandoval is charged with violent crimes including first-degree burglary and fourth-degree assault on police, all filed in March of last year.

Court records show Sandoval was found mentally incompetent to stand trial in those cases and was ordered civilly committed in July 2021. Details about his commitment under that order were not immediately available. Court records further show that Sandoval has subsequently been found incompetent to stand trial in those cases at least twice, most recently in May of this year. Despite the incompetency findings, Judge Lisa K. Janzen signed an order for Sandoval to be conditionally released on zero bail. Information wasn’t immediately available on how or when Sandoval came to be placed at the St. Paul sober home prior to the murders.

Corcoran police reported that on Friday they responded to a burglary report where the suspects brandished a handgun at the victim, as well as a subsequent vehicle theft that may have been related. The incident played out around 1 p.m. on the 19300 block of Bridle Path. The victim told police he saw three males walk up his driveway and enter his garage. The suspects fled toward a white Mazda SUV parked in the street after being initially confronted by the victim. As the victim approached the suspect vehicle, one suspect brandished a handgun.

Officers from Corcoran and Medina responded to the area but were not able to find the suspect vehicle. It was later learned that the Mazda had been stolen out of Eden Prairie.

About 15 minutes later, police in Medina responded on a report of a stolen silver Mercedes SUV which was being followed by the white Mazda SUV. The pair of vehicles was later located together in Maple Grove where law enforcement engaged in a pursuit through Maple Grove, New Hope, Crystal and eventually into Minneapolis. The stolen vehicles split up in Minneapolis and law enforcement lost sight of both vehicles, the statement said.

Corcoran police took the opportunity to remind people to stay vigilant in reporting suspicious activity. The incident follows recent reports from other west metro cities like Orono and Minnetonka about an increase in property crimes.

Medina police followed up and posted a crime alert for their city and stated that on Friday around 1 p.m., “brazen” criminals entered the city for the second time in a week. The suspects on Friday stole a vehicle and committed two burglaries of open garages. Medina police had posted another crime alert a week prior about a vehicle that had been stolen in the Wild Meadows neighborhood after the keys were left inside it in the driveway. The suspects in that incident used a garage door opener found inside the vehicle to open the garage doors. They were also seen trying vehicle door handles in the area. No suspect details were offered in either incident.

Minneapolis police responded to three shootings in just over two hours Saturday evening, including a three-year-old victim, according to dispatch audio.

Police were first dispatch to the 3800 block of Penn Avenue North about 7:38 p.m. on a report of a person inside a vehicle who had been shot. Police arrived and found the victim next to Crystal Lake Cemetery. A clip of audio indicating automatic burst fire was later posted online that was reported to be the sound of shots from the shooting. Information about the victim’s injuries was not immediately available, and no public statement was issued by police.

Minneapolis police responded to another shooting just after 9:30 p.m. on the 3300 block of Colfax Avenue North. The victim was reported to be shot in the head, according to dispatch audio. After arriving, police aired that the shots came from an unknown color pick-up truck that fled the area. Police later updated that a Kia with blood on it was parked across from where the victim was found. The vehicle had Maryland plates and a smashed window. The dispatcher responded that the vehicle had been stolen earlier from the 4400 block of 3rd Avenue South in Minneapolis. Further information about the victim’s injuries or condition was not immediately available, and no public statement was issued by police.

Just after 10 p.m., Minneapolis police responded to another shooting on the 2200 block of 5th Avenue North where the victim was reported to be a three-year-old child. Police located spent shell casings behind a nearby address. Further dispatch audio indicated that the child had been transported to the hospital with a graze wound to the head. Police later released a statement to media saying the child’s injuries were not life-threatening, and no arrests had been made at the time.

Richfield police responded on a report of a shooting Saturday about 9 p.m. on the 7400 block of 18th Avenue South, according to dispatch audio. A search perimeter ensued at a nearby apartment building for a Hispanic male, 25 to 30 in a dark green hoodie and black Adidas pants who was eventually named on dispatch. Police said they had at least one prior encounter with the male in which they’d recovered a firearm. One victim told police that the suspect asked for a female by name and pointed a gun at him and fired a gun, but he was not struck. Police aired that the suspect would be wanted for second-degree assault.

A police K9 and a State Patrol flight operator assisted in the search for the suspect, but he was not located at the time. Police later told media that the suspect, whom they had identified, was looking for his girlfriend, but the residents didn’t know the person he was looking for. Police said the suspect then pulled out a gun and fired several shots before running away. They said no one was injured.

The suspect named over dispatch did not appear to be in custody as of 2 p.m. on Monday. Court records show that the named suspect also has a gross misdemeanor warrant for failure to appear at a scheduled hearing in a case where his is charged with interfering with a 911 call, two counts of domestic assault and disorderly conduct. Court records show that the suspect was out of custody on zero bail in that Hennepin County case.

Several vehicles in the Lake Nokomis area of Minneapolis were damaged early Sunday morning with windows shot out by apparent BB gun fire.

Police began responding to reports after 9:30 a.m. on the 5100 block of 29th Avenue South, according to dispatch audio. At one point, an officer requested another squad to help with reports because he said “about 40 vehicles” had been damaged.

A home security video was posted online which was reported to be from incidents on one block recorded around 4 a.m. In the video, a car can be seen driving down the block and several popping sounds are heard. Glass or some object can be seen falling from a vehicle parked on the street after the moving vehicle passed by.

Several residents subsequently contacted Crime Watch with reports and photos of damage. One person said they saw up to 25 vehicles that had been damaged, another person reported their vehicle in the Corcoran neighborhood was also damaged (top photo).

The Minneapolis Police Department later told one media outlet that 14 vehicles had been damaged in the incidents, potentially by a BB gun. MPD said they were continuing to investigate. Information about the estimated value of damages was not immediately available.

Around Minnesota

The Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office on Friday announced the arrest of Good Thunder Mayor Robert John Anderson, 66, earlier in the week.

Robert John Anderson (Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office)

The statement by the sheriff’s office said they were following up on an investigative referral from the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) regarding incidents of possible financial conflicts of interest. They said multiple search warrants were executed by investigators to recover relevant documents during the arrest.

Court records show Anderson has been charged with felony counts of embezzlement of public funds, theft by swindle, and theft, as well as four gross misdemeanor counts of interest in contract violation involving a public officer.

Charges detail alleged conflicts of interest that describe Anderson’s apparent financial interest involving city purchase agreements that personally benefitted him. Among several allegations, incidents included a city sidewalk project in which Anderson acted as a subcontractor. The city agreed to pay $54,938 to replace certain sidewalks. Anderson voted on the matter and was the sole signatory on the check to the contractor. Anderson then worked as a subcontractor in the removal of the sidewalk.

In another instance, a review found that the city was invoiced from a concrete vendor that billed the city for materials shipped to Anderson’s business. The city paid over $24,000 for the materials from 15 invoices. Meanwhile, a review found social media posts from Anderson’s business that posted about concrete work being done at the location on several dates.

OSA noted in information provided to the sheriff’s office that “It appears the City paid $24,671.30 for concrete materials that were shipped to the Mayor’s business location and that this use of public funds paid for certain non-City expenses; the City has not produced documentation demonstrating how much of this amount, if any, was for legitimate City expenses.”

Anderson made his first court appearance on Friday and was denied a public defender. Court records show Anderson has retained a private attorney and was released on his own recognizance following the hearing. Anderson’s next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 31, 2023.

Anderson has held the office of mayor since 1992 and is seeking re-election on the November ballot.

– – –

Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.


Crime Watch MN
 | Website

Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.