Twin Cities weekend crime recap

Year-end homicide numbers for Minneapolis ranged in media reports from 79 to 81. St. Paul ended the year with a record number of 40 homicides. A man previously bailed out by the Minnesota Freedom Fund led police on a chase across Minneapolis. A man on parole for criminal sexual conduct was arrested by Medina police on suspicion of murder.

Suspect in a Woodbury armed robbery of an adult male in his driveway at 5:15 a.m. Thursday at 70xx Winter Wheat Way.

Minneapolis added two homicides over the weekend — the final homicide for 2022 and the first homicide of 2023.

Downtown Minneapolis police responded just before 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 30 to a report of a shooting at 6th Street South and Chicago Avenue, near US Bank Stadium. Police arrived to find a male with multiple gunshot wounds who was not breathing inside a vehicle, according to dispatch audio. MPD later released a statement confirming a male in his 20s had died as a result of the shooting. The decedent has since been identified as Jeremy Demond Ellis, 26, of Plymouth, Minn.

The suspected shooter was described at the time as a Somali male with a large afro who was seen fleeing from the scene. Further dispatch audio indicated that police tracked the possible suspect to a nearby apartment building, and police worked overnight to obtain a search warrant. A 27-year-old male was booked into custody about 3:40 a.m. Saturday but had not been formally charged as of noon Tuesday. Court records show the suspect being held was out of custody on a $1 million bond on another pending murder charge in Clay County. The suspect being held in custody was also previously charged in 2017 with attempted murder in Olmsted County. Ultimately, he pled guilty to third-degree riot in that case under a plea deal.

The first Minneapolis homicide of 2023 occurred about 3:40 a.m. on New Year’s Day when police responded to a report of a gunshot victim in a vehicle near 42nd and Lyndale Avenue North. An MPD statement later said the male in his 20s died from his injuries. A second gunshot victim in his 40s showed up at the hospital about three hours later with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. Police discovered a shooting scene inside a building at 4430 Lyndale Avenue North that was being rented out for an after-hours party. The MPD statement said that police encountered a large crowd and a chaotic scene at the venue where they recovered evidence and three firearms. The initial investigation indicated that a verbal altercation between individuals known to each other escalated to gunfire. No arrests had been made at the time.

Year-end homicide numbers for Minneapolis ranged in media reports from 79 to 81. A city data table lists 78. There were also two officer-involved justifiable homicides in Minneapolis in 2022, where no charges were filed against officers in the deaths of Tekle Sundburg and Amir Locke.

St. Paul ended the year with a record number of 40 homicides, exceeding 38 homicides in 2021. St. Paul had one officer-involved shooting homicide that is still under review by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).

A man bailed out by the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF) last year who subsequently jumped bail and failed to show three times for hearings reportedly nearly struck two Minneapolis police officers with a stolen vehicle as he rammed their squad on Thursday and subsequently led police on a chase across the city.

Tyquis Jahaad Watkins (Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office)

Tyquis Jahaad Watkins, 28, of Minneapolis has been charged with one felony count of fleeing police for the incident that began around 1:45 a.m. Thursday when police came upon two parties slumped in a stolen vehicle near 26th and Cedar Avenue South.

As officers gave commands for the suspects in the vehicle to put their hands up, the driver turned the car on, put it into reverse, and then accelerated at a high rate of speed back into the officers’ squad causing both officers to run out of the way to avoid being struck. The suspect vehicle then fled, and police initiated a pursuit that lasted over 30 minutes traveling into St. Paul before ending back in Minneapolis. Watkins and the passenger fled on foot in the area of East 29th Street and 17th Avenue South. Watkins was taken into custody with the assistance of a police K9.

Court records indicate that MFF put up $3,000 cash bail for Watkins after he was charged last February with felony counts of fleeing police in a motor vehicle and first-degree criminal damage to property.

Court records show that Watkins skipped a court hearing the following day and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Watkins was subsequently arrested but had warrants issued two more times for failure to appear at hearings in the case. Watkins was wanted on a warrant in that case and two other misdemeanor cases at the time of his arrest on Thursday.

Watkins does not appear to have been charged related to possession of the stolen vehicle, nor with attempted assault of a police officer. He is currently being held on $40,000 bail on the new fleeing charge and made his first court appearance on Tuesday afternoon.

A man on parole for criminal sexual conduct involving a minor was arrested by Medina police on Thursday on suspicion of murder.

Jeremiah Quan Turner, 25, of Minneapolis was charged Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court with second-degree intentional murder in the death of a 27-year-old woman who was reportedly Turner’s romantic partner.

Jeremiah Quan Turner (MN Dept. of Corrections)

Police were dispatched just after 12:30 a.m. Thursday to a residence on the 500 block of Clydesdale Circle on a medical emergency where they found the female with numerous bruises on her body. Life-saving measures were taken, but she died at the hospital.

The criminal complaint states that Turner gave conflicting information to police about what had transpired, initially telling them the woman had been in a car accident. Police checked two cars in the garage and found that neither had been damaged. After obtaining a search warrant, police located blood on the floor in the living room and in the kitchen, as well as blood and spatter throughout the main bedroom on the walls, floor, bedding, and other areas. Police also found a broken metal item that appeared to be a toilet paper holder that had blood on it.

The victim’s two children were present in the residence. One of them was subsequently interviewed and corroborated that Turner had beaten the victim with a toilet paper holder. The child said the victim was crying and saying “stop.” The child also observed blood throughout the residence.

The medical examiner’s results showed the preliminary cause of death as multiple blunt force trauma or complications from such trauma, the complaint said.

Turner was convicted in 2016 on a charge of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a victim under age 16. Turner was granted a stay-of-imposition on the felony sentence by Washington County Judge William B. Ekstrum. Turner also has a 2019 conviction on misdemeanor domestic assault.

Turner is being held in custody on $1 million bail and is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Wednesday.

Woodbury police reported that a man was robbed in his driveway Thursday morning about 5:15 a.m. on the 7000 block of Winter Wheat Way. The victim was punched in the face and his phone, wallet and car keys were taken. The victim scared off the suspects by honking his horn.

Woodbury police said in a statement that there were at least five suspects including four males and one female. Their race and age were unknown. At least one of the assailants presented a handgun during this incident. Doorbell camera captured images of one of the assailants and the vehicle involved. Woodbury detectives are continuing to investigate.

New Brighton police reported that an early Thursday morning traffic stop led to the arrest of a man wanted on warrants, and the discovery of a stolen firearm and narcotics. The traffic stop was initiated after officers received a warrant hit for the registered owner of the vehicle.

During the stop, officers detected an odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. The driver provided a fake name before attempting to flee and then struck the squad. The driver proceeded to fight with officers and was reaching under the driver’s seat before officers deployed a taser and took him into custody, charges say.

A search of the vehicle found a stolen firearm under the driver’s seat, suspected marijuana, nearly 7 grams of suspected cocaine, 278 suspected “M30” pills weighing over 29 grams that field tested positive for fentanyl, and a black face mask.

Richard Alan Staples Jr (Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

Richard Alan Staples, Jr., 29, of Minneapolis was charged in Ramsey County District Court on Friday with five felonies including: two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm/ammunition; third- and fifth-degree drug possession; and fleeing police in a motor vehicle.

Staples has 14 prior convictions including six felony convictions, several of which preclude him from possessing firearms including third-degree assault, first-degree aggravated robbery, and two fifth-degree drug convictions.

Staples was also wanted on warrants at the time of his arrest in at least two open cases that stretch back to April and August 2019 in Benton County. Staples is charged with five felonies between the two cases, both cases involve charges of illegal possession of a firearm, and one case additionally involves three counts of first-degree sale/possession of a controlled substance.

Staples made his first court appearance on Friday and remains in custody on $100,000 bail.

Andrew Thomas Grzywinski, 35, made his first appearance Thursday in Ramsey County District Court on two felony counts of threats of violence for allegedly making threats against St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Maplewood Mall.

Andrew Thomas Grzywinski (Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

Charges say that on Dec. 27, Grzywinski, of St. Paul, texted a picture of an AR-15 style firearm on a window ledge to his ex-girlfriend with a message that read, “Maplewood mall is my idea and Mayor of St. Paul is end goal.”

The woman contacted Woodbury police because Grzywinski was staying at a hotel in their jurisdiction. Woodbury police subsequently contacted the police departments in St. Paul and Maplewood to make them aware of the threats.

The criminal complaint states that a Woodbury investigator learned that Grzywinski had been hospitalized between Dec. 15 to 22, 2022, in Pensacola, Fla., on a mental health hold. The doctor who treated Grzywinski told police that his threats should be taken seriously.

The St. Paul Police Department notified Mayor Carter and the deputy mayor about the threat, and a security detail was sent to Mayor Carter’s home in St. Paul.

The Maplewood Police Department sent a six-squad security detail to the mall located at 3001 White Bear Lake, and the mall closed two hours early because of the threats.

Grzywinski was arrested at the Woodbury hotel, and a search warrant was executed on the room where officers recovered a Mossberg International 715P .22 caliber long rifle, its black case, and a magazine containing ammunition from Grzywinski’s room. The rifle was the one seen in the text Grzywinski sent to his ex-girlfriend.

Grzywinski was brought to police headquarters for an interview where he ripped a camera off the wall of the interview room. When an investigator entered and asked him what he was doing, Grzywinski said, “I want a lawyer!” When Grzywinski was taken to jail, he asked why he was being booked. When he was told it was for making threats of violence against the mayor of Saint Paul, Grzywinski said, “I never said I was gonna kill the mayor — I said I want to run for mayor.”

According to court records, Grzywinski was ordered held without bail or bond and remains in custody.

A warrant was issued Thursday in Hennepin County for the arrest of Kenneth Damon Spencer, Jr., 25, on charges related to the fatal crash on Nov. 18 that killed 24-year-old Ebony Allaya Miller in Minneapolis near 10th and University Avenue Southeast.

Kenneth Damon Spencer (Anoka County Sheriff’s Office 2021)

Spencer, of Maple Grove, has been charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide involving driving while impaired and in a grossly negligent manner.

The crash happened after 2 a.m., and charges state that Spencer was driving over 75 mph and ran a red light striking Miller’s vehicle which had entered the intersection on a green light. Spencer admitted to police following the crash that he had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. Miller was pronounced dead at the scene after being extricated from her vehicle.

Ebony Miller (University of Minnesota)

Miller was a research scientist in the University of Minnesota Stromnes Lab, Department of Microbiology & Immunology and Center for Immunology. Miller was planning to become a physician and was recently accepted into the prestigious and highly competitive Howard Medical School and was supposed to enroll in March of 2023, according to a memorial posted on the U of M’s website.

Spencer has never had a Minnesota driver’s license, Star Tribune reported. Court records show Spencer was on probation at the time of the November crash for a St. Louis Park incident in July 2021 that resulted in a plea deal dismissing DWI and careless driving charges in exchange for Spencer pleading guilty to driving without a license.

Theng Yang, 31, of St. Paul was charged on Thursday in Ramsey County District Court with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm after he fled from a St. Paul traffic stop and threw a loaded gun. A passenger also fled from the vehicle but was not apprehended. Police recovered a Louis Vuitton bag thrown by the passenger that contained two pounds of methamphetamine.

Theng Yang (Minnesota Dept. of Corrections)

Yang is a lifelong offender with 17 prior convictions including eight felonies, several of which preclude Yang from possessing firearms. Yang also has at least two juvenile convictions on violent crimes, according to court documents.

Yang was convicted in two separate cases in 2017 on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to 60 months in prison in each of the cases, or 10 years. However, both sentences were ordered to be served concurrently by Ramsey County Judge Castro Lenardo. As a result, Yang served only just over three years in prison on the two convictions under Minnesota’s sentencing rule that only requires offenders to serve two-thirds of their sentence incarcerated.

Yang is currently on parole for two other more recent felony convictions that were also ordered to be served concurrently. Yang was released from prison on supervised release in August 2022.

Yang made a first court appearance on Friday and remains in custody on $100,000 bail.

Four people were charged in Hennepin County District Court on Thursday related to the Christmas weekend shooting homicide at Mall of America in Bloomington.

TaeShawn Adams-Wright, 18, of north Minneapolis with one count of aid/abet second-degree murder and one count of aid/abet second-degree assault. A nationwide warrant has been issued for 17-year-old Lavon Longstreet on the same charges. Longstreet is not in custody and is believed to be out of state. Two unnamed 17-year-old juvenile accomplices were also charged with aid/abet second-degree riot. Read the full Alpha News report on the charges.

Cottage Grove police reported that on Friday they responded to a first-degree burglary of an occupied dwelling during which a vehicle was taken from an attached garage. Police located the vehicle about 7:39 p.m. occupied by four individuals near Indian Boulevard and Keats Avenue South. The vehicle fled as officers attempted to get additional squads to the area. The vehicle containing the suspects crashed a short distance later at Jamaica Avenue South and Military Road. The four occupants fled of foot but were subsequently captured without additional force, police said. One was initially captured by officers within two minutes. A second was found with the assistance of a State Patrol helicopter and a Cottage Grove K9, and the last two suspects were found hiding in a porta potty in a new housing development near 62nd Street South and Jeffrey and Jeffrey Avenue South. A localized Code Red message went out to alert nearby residents during the incident. An all-clear message was sent about 9:10 p.m. Police said the four suspects were all males from St. Paul, ages 13, 14, 15 and 16. In addition to the help from State Patrol troopers and air support, Cottage Grove police were assisted by officers from Woodbury, St. Paul Park and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Washington County Communications Center. No further information was made available about the arrested parties or what charges they may face.

Brooklyn Center police reported that a proactive traffic stop on New Year’s Eve for failure to display license plates led to the arrest of two adults and the recovery of three firearms. During the stop near the intersection of 55th and Xerxes Avenue North, officers detected the smell of marijuana emanating from the vehicle, and the occupants were asked to step out of the vehicle. The search turned up baggies containing suspected marijuana and three loaded guns. Hennepin County Jail records show a 26-year-old man and a 52-year-old woman were booked into custody on probable cause weapons. Neither had been formally charged as of noon Tuesday.

Guns recovered on New Year’s Eve (Brooklyn Center Police Dept.)
Around Minnesota

On Thursday, the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of Mustafa Rahshad Bush, 39, in connection to the death of 41-year-old Kimberly Ann Robinson from the Eyota and Rochester area. Mustafa is currently on parole for a 2006 murder and has been on supervised release by the Minnesota Department of Corrections since March 2020.

Mustafa Rahshad Bush (Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office)

Robinson’s body was found on Dec. 26 by a person walking their dog in the area of River Bluffs Lane NW and West River Road in Cascade Township. A suspicious death investigation was started by authorities during which Robinson was identified. Final autopsy results are expected at a later date, but the sheriff said they believe a firearm was used in the death of Robinson.

Kimberly Robinson (Facebook)

Sheriff Kevin Torgerson said in the press conference that Mustafa and Robinson were acquainted with each other and had been together over the Christmas weekend. Investigators worked leads and identified Mustafa as a person of interest. With the assistance of Mustafa’s family, he was brought in and questioned at the county law enforcement center. Ultimately, Mustafa declined to give a statement and he was placed under arrest, Sheriff Torgerson said.

Bush is being held on suspicion of second-degree murder while the case continues to be investigated.

St. Cloud police are seeking information on alleged victims of a gun pointing incident that occurred on Friday Dec. 30 before 9 a.m. on the 300 block of 14th Avenue Southeast.

The alleged suspect Craig Lamar Hortman, 53, of St. Cloud was arrested in the area after initially refusing to comply with the officer’s commands. Hortman was found to be in possession of a 9mm handgun and 200 “Perc 30” fentanyl pills. Hortman does not have a permit to carry a firearm, police said.

Craig Lamar Hortman (Stearns County Jail prior mugshot)

Hortman was charged on Tuesday in Benton County District Court with third- and fifth-degree controlled substance, both felonies, and one gross misdemeanor count of carrying a pistol without a permit. Hortman remains in custody on $100,000 bail after making an initial court appearance Tuesday. St. Cloud police want to locate the victims of the gun pointing incident to investigate whether additional charges can be considered.

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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

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