Twin Cities weekend crime recap

Minneapolis started the year with 700 stolen cars, Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher was ordered to immediately reduce the jail population, and a man was shot and killed near the Walker Art Center.

Minneapolis police look for evidence following a fatal shooting near Walker Art Center (MNDOT camera image)

The Minneapolis Police Department on Friday provided an update on auto theft related crimes for the first month of 2023 during which they said the city experienced more than 700 auto thefts, 33 carjackings and 260 thefts from motor vehicles. The notification called the statistics “alarming,” and said many of the vehicles were stolen with a key or fob left inside when the vehicle was left running and unoccupied. Police listed a litany of crime prevention tips including removing valuables from vehicles, installing alarms or steering wheel-lock devices, staying alert to your surroundings, and they urged people not to leave vehicles running and take keys and fobs with them.

Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges on Thursday offered details about a Wednesday evening incident in which three people were found deceased from gunshot wounds inside a vehicle. Officers were dispatched to France Place located at Minnesota Drive and France Avenue South about 8:25 p.m. on a report of a person slumped inside a pick-up truck. When police arrived, they found three people deceased inside including a father and son. The third person was described as a business associate. The chief said the parties were not from Bloomington and the incident was believed to be a murder-suicide between people who had business financial dealings.

The medical examiner identified the father and son on Friday as Dale Kenneth Dahmen, 55, who died from a gunshot wound to the head, and Dominick Kenneth Dahmen, 25, who died from multiple gunshot wounds. Both were from Buffalo, Minn., and their deaths were ruled as homicides.

The identity of the third deceased party, the apparent shooter, had not been made available as of noon Monday, and no further information had been provided about the circumstances leading up to the triple fatal shooting.

The Carver County Sheriff’s Office reported on Thursday that they were investigating after they were notified before 3 a.m. that a 17-year-old male had suffered a fatal gunshot wound. The press release stated that Eden Prairie police had engaged in a pursuit of a vehicle that ended at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina. Law enforcement found the gunshot victim inside the vehicle.

Their investigation indicated that the gunshot wound occurred on the 700 block of Conestoga Trail in Chanhassen and that the victim had been driven to the hospital by friends. CCSO said that an 18-year-old female acquaintance of the victim had been arrested in connection to the shooting. Both the victim and suspect were from cities in the east metro.

The gunshot victim has since been publicly identified by family as Manuel Bernal Jurado.

Vanessa Sanchez Lopez (Carver County Sheriff’s Office)

The suspect, Vanessa Sanchez Lopez of St. Paul was charged Monday with two felony counts of second-degree murder: one count involving intent but without premeditation, and one count involving a drive-by shooting.

Charges say that the victim was Sanchez Lopez’s boyfriend and he had been seated in the passenger seat of a vehicle while she was in the driver’s seat. Two other teens were also in the vehicle, one age 19, and the other a 15-year-old.

Another witness at the residence on Conestoga Trail later told police that Sanchez Lopez and the victim had been arguing all night. The witness also told police there was a gun in the vehicle belonging to the victim and that Sanchez Lopez and the victim had been shooting the gun out the window while driving around.

The vehicle returned to the Conestoga Trail address and all occupants exited, but then got back into the vehicle due to the cold. The witness told police that Sanchez Lopez grabbed the gun and pointed it directly at the victim’s head and fired.

The witness told police that Sanchez Lopez said, “What the f–k do we do, I don’t
want to bring him, cus I don’t want to go the f–k to prison.” One of the other occupants then got into the driver’s seat and drove to the hospital.

Another witness told police that the victim handed the gun to Sanchez Lopez with the magazine removed and told her she could hold it but not to shoot it because there was a “bullet in there.” The witness said Sanchez Lopez replied, “bet,” and then put the gun to the victim’s head and fired it.

Sanchez Lopez initially denied to police that she was in the vehicle when the victim was shot, but then changed her story and said the gun went off when she was dancing around inside the vehicle. She eventually admitted she intentionally pointed the gun at the victim’s neck and pulled the trigger.

Deputies recovered camera audio from a neighboring house on Conestoga Trail. The audio was recorded shortly after the shooting, and in the audio recording a female voice can be heard saying, “Ness you kill him,” and a male voice says, “You shot him in the face” twice.

Sanchez Lopez made her first court appearance Monday afternoon and was ordered held without bail. (updated with booking photo)

The Eden Prairie Police Department on Thursday asked for the public’s help in identifying a business robbery suspect. The incident occurred about 8 a.m. Thursday at Lucky’s Station located at 13991 Anderson Lakes Parkway. Anyone with information is urged to contact EPPD at 952-949-6200 and reference case #23-003833.

Javier Juan Valtierra, 31, of south Minneapolis pled guilty in federal court Thursday to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Javier Juan Valtierra (Sherburne County Jail)

According to charges originally filed in Hennepin County following Valtierra’s July 2022 arrest, police responded just before 1:30 p.m. to a report of a person slumped in a vehicle on the 2400 block of Oakland Avenue. Police found Valtierra and a female driver both bent forward in the vehicle and the female was not responsive to police.

Police observed a large amount of money wrapped in a rubber band sitting next to Valtierra, totaling $1,650. Police also observed a clear plastic baggie with suspected narcotics inside, as well as paraphernalia on Valtierra’s lap. Upon searching, police located a firearm in Valtierra’s front shorts pocket. Inside a small black bag that was strapped to Valtierra’s body, police located over 69 grams of a substance that field-tested positive for cocaine, and over ten grams of methamphetamine.

Valtierra admitted to police that the drugs and gun were his and that he sold drugs to support his own drug habit. Valtierra is prohibited from possessing firearms due to two prior felony convictions in cases involving charges of second-degree assault and simple robbery.

Valtierra was subsequently indicted on the gun charge in September in federal court.

Valtierra remains in federal custody and will be sentenced at a later date.

The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office reported Thursday that a vehicle rear-ended an occupied school bus in Linwood Twp., just before 4 p.m. on the 19800 block of Viking Boulevard Northeast.

No adults or children on the school bus were injured, but the driver of the striking sedan needed to be extricated from the vehicle and was subsequently hospitalized in stable condition. The initial investigation indicated that the school bus, which had been traveling westbound on Viking Blvd NE, was stopped to let children off the bus when it was rear ended by the sedan. ACSO said the driver of the sedan received a citation for duty to drive with due care – speed greater than reasonable, and the incident remains under investigation by the sheriff’s office.

Deric Lavon Moffitt, 28, of West St. Paul was arrested Friday following a reported road rage incident that involved gun-pointing and possible shots fired that occurred before noon in Eagan.

Deric Lavon Moffitt (Dakota County Jail)

Moffitt was formally charged in Dakota County District Court on Monday with a felony count of threats of violence with intent to terrorize.

Charges say the reporting party later told police he was driving northbound on Argenta Trail near Opperman Drive when he saw a vehicle facing eastbound on Opperman Drive that was stopped partially in the intersection. As the reporting party turned westbound onto Opperman Drive, he and the driver of the other vehicle looked at each other.

The reporting party stated as he continued driving, the other vehicle, later determined to be driven by Moffitt, pulled a U-turn and began following the reporting party. Moffitt then sped ahead of the reporting party and stopped in the roadway, partially blocking the reporting party’s path. As Moffitt and the reporting party came up next to each other, Moffitt rolled down his passenger side window and pointed a black handgun at the reporting party. The reporting party told officers he was in shock and felt like the handgun was pointed at him for thirty to thirty-five seconds before the reporting party was able to tell Moffitt that his child was in the car.

Moffitt then sped off and the reporting party followed, using his cell phone to record Moffitt’s vehicle and driving conduct as he drove away from the scene. As the reporting party followed, he heard two muffled pops coming from Moffitt’s vehicle, which he believed to be gunshots. At least one of the popping sounds was captured by the reporting party’s video recording that was later reviewed by officers.

A short time later, officers located Moffitt in West Saint Paul and placed him under arrest. During a search incident to arrest, officers located a black handgun on Moffitt’s person. Upon further investigation, officers determined there was a bullet missing from the handgun.

A court document indicates that Moffitt had a permit to carry a handgun.

Records show Moffitt made his first court appearance on Monday and was ordered conditionally released with no bail required by Senior Judge Thomas Pugh despite the prosecutor’s recommendation for a conditional release bail amount of $20,000, or $40,000 without conditions.

Moffitt has 2016 felony conviction on threats of violence during which he brandished a knife, court documents say. Moffitt was ordered to serve zero time of a 365-day sentence in the case and was placed on probation for a term of two years. The felony conviction was converted to a gross misdemeanor pursuant to state statute upon Moffitt’s completion of the probation period.

Colleen Purificacion Larson, 25, of Woodbury pled guilty Friday in Hennepin County District Court to aiding and abetting first-degree murder in the April 2022 shooting of Minneapolis Police Department forensic scientist Nicki Ford (formerly Lenway) outside a supervised parenting facility in southeast Minneapolis.

Colleen Purificacion Larson (prior mugshot Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office)

Larson admitted to pulling the trigger and shooting Ford who shared a child with Larson’s then-boyfriend Timothy Allen Amacher. Court documents detail that Larson met Amacher when she was about 13 years old and moved in with him when she was 18. Amacher is 17 years older than Larson and was a prominent martial arts instructor, and Larson met him through her training.

Court documents describe a contentious custody battle between Ford and Amacher that went on for years, with allegations of abuse and harassment by Amacher against Ford.

Larson told investigators that she and Amacher discussed killing Ford a week or two before the shooting. Larson reportedly asked Amacher whether he would let her adopt his son. Amacher reportedly told Larson that Ford would never let that happen, but if Ford were not around, he would allow Larson to adopt his son.

Amacher was inside the parenting facility with his son when the shooting occurred outside. Court documents state Ford (Lenway) was outside her vehicle in the parking lot of the parenting center when a suspect dressed entirely in black, with gloves and a medical mask, ran up from behind her and shot her twice. Ford was struck in the neck and right forearm.

The shooting occurred off camera, but a witness who helped Lenway told investigators they saw the suspect run up behind Lenway and heard shots. The witness told police “the suspect ran away as [Lenway] staggered and grabbed her neck. The witness pointed to where the shooting occurred, and officers observed three .380 discharged cartridge cases and three .380 live rounds on the ground.”

Lenway was taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center and “suffered a through and through gunshot to her arm, and the gunshot to her neck caused numerous internal injuries, including a perforated lung.”

Larson’s plea agreement states that in exchange for the guilty plea, the state will seek a “middle of the box” guidelines sentence, and that Larson’s defense will argue for less time at sentencing.

Larson is not currently in custody. Sentencing is scheduled for March 27.

Amacher, 41, was convicted by a jury in November of first-degree attempted murder and was sentenced in January to 18 years in prison. He is anticipated to be released in April 2034 after serving just 12 years of his sentence under Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines that only require offenders to serve two-thirds of their sentence incarcerated.

The Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) on Friday ordered the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office to immediately reduce its jail population due to insufficient staffing levels. The order issued by DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell stems from a complaint the DOC received from Ramsey County Public Health claiming that the safety and health of individuals at the Adult Detention Center (ADC) were at risk.

Staffing levels are outlined in state rules that define minimum standards of staffing required for jail facilities.

The order states that based on the DOC’s investigation, Ramsey County ADC’s failure to comply with minimum staffing requirements has contributed to conditions that pose an “imminent risk of life-threatening harm” to individuals confined or incarcerated in the facility at 425 Grove Street, St. Paul.

Four incidents are detailed in the order that describe alleged delays and/or ADC staff’s refusal to comply with medical staff’s requests for care for inmates experiencing medical issues.

The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office has until Wednesday, Feb. 8 at noon to comply with the order to maintain its license. The order states the jail’s approved capacity is reduced to 360 inmates and its operation bed capacity is reduced to 324 from 500. The order will remain in effect until Nov. 30, 2023, or until further ordered by the DOC.

Fotini Anest West, 25, of Minneapolis pled guilty Friday in Dakota County District Court to one count of aiding and abetting second-degree murder in connection to the shooting death of 43-year-old Michael Chang-Beom Lee at his home in Inver Grove Heights on Sept. 24, 2022. Co-defendant Logan David Slack, 25, of Minneapolis pled guilty earlier last week.

The criminal complaints against Slack and West described a pay-for-play erotic encounter gone wrong. West claimed Lee assaulted her and refused to pay. An armed Slack and West then confronted Lee in the basement bathroom of the home and an altercation ensued. Slack later confessed to police that he shot Lee in the back to stop him from calling 911 and to obtain Lee’s cell phone to ensure electronic payment for the massage. Police caught up with the pair in a vehicle as they tried to leave the neighborhood.

West entered a Norgaard plea on the charge in which she admits to her role in the crime but doesn’t recall her actions. The plea document does not specify any agreement on terms or length of sentencing.

A plea agreement for Slack specifies a prison term of just over 30 years. Under Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines, offenders are only required to serve two-thirds of their sentence incarcerated. As such, Slack is expected to serve about 20 years.

Both are scheduled for sentencing on May 3.

At least two Bloomington car dealerships reported missing and/or damaged vehicles early Saturday morning. According to dispatch audio, police first responded before 9 a.m. to a Kia dealership on the 1700 block of West American Boulevard on a report of a stolen vehicle and other vehicles damaged by a stolen Hyundai that was left behind. Shortly after 9 a.m., police learned that a Hyundai dealership on the 4800 block of West American Boulevard had experienced similar issues with two vehicles reportedly missing and “damage to several other vehicles.” Police indicated at the time that the Hyundai found at the Kia dealership was one of the vehicles taken from the Hyundai dealership. Information about the extent of damage and loss to each dealership was not immediately available, and no public information was released by police about the incidents.

The Cottage Grove Police Department on Saturday announced the addition of their newest K9 officer, “Odin,” who is partnered with Officer Matt Sorgaard.

Officer Matt Sorgaard and K9 Odin (Cottage Grove Police Dept.)

They said Odin is a one-year-old Belgian Malinois imported out of Hungary by Police Service Dogs, Inc. Odin was selected with the assistance of Sgt. Jacobsen, the head trainer for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Officer Sorgaard, who has been with the department since 2016, and Odin will be attending initial Patrol and Narcotics training through the county sheriff’s office. They are expected to be certified and completed with initial training this May.

Odin was purchased through assistance by the Cottage Grove Public Safety Board with a generous donation paired with a grant by AKC Reunite & the United States Police Canine Association. CGPD said.

Brooklyn Park police reported two separate robbery incidents occurred Saturday evening in the Cub Foods parking lot at 7555 West Broadway Avenue. Police were dispatched around 10 p.m. on a report of a strong-arm robbery where three male suspects had struck the victim in the face and stolen her cell phone. A short time later, police received a second report that the same suspects had attempted to rob another victim in the same location a couple of hours prior. Officers established a perimeter in the area and did not locate the suspects at the time. The incidents continue to be investigated by the Brooklyn Park Police Department.

Two people were shot in St. Paul Sunday just before 1 a.m. in a drive-by shooting on the 500 block of Snelling Avenue North. The victims were reported to be in a vehicle near a fast-food drive-thru, according to dispatch audio. One victim was reported to be shot in the arm and side; the other victim was reportedly shot in the leg. The suspects were described at the time as four black males wearing ski masks in a newer white Toyota 4 Runner.

Further dispatch audio indicated that police spotted a vehicle matching the description of the suspect vehicle about 1:20 a.m. on 35E, and a pursuit was initiated. A PIT maneuver was eventually performed disabling the vehicle and the suspects fled on foot. A search perimeter was set up in the area of Arlington Avenue West and Rice Street in the North End neighborhood. The driver was quickly taken into custody. The search for further suspects ended just after 2 a.m.

Jail records show a 23-year-old female was booked into custody on probable cause charges of fleeing police, receiving stolen property, and DWI. Information wasn’t immediately available on whether police think she was connected to the shooting.

Police later told media that two 22-year-old male victims were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

Three people were shot in downtown Minneapolis early Sunday morning around bar close. Just after 2 a.m., an officer reported hearing the sound of shots near North 1st Avenue and North 5th Street, according to dispatch audio. Within a few minutes, officers found two people who had been shot: one near 6th and Hennepin Avenue and another near 1st Avenue and 5th Street. A few minutes later, the dispatcher aired that another gunshot victim had shown up at HCMC. Further information indicated that an altercation had transpired inside Monarch Minneapolis. Police later confirmed to media that all three people shot were males in their 20s, and all are expected to survive. No arrests had been made at the time.

Brooklyn Park police reported that they responded Sunday to a shooting about 5:35 p.m. at the Autumn Ridge Apartments in the 6300 block of Boone Avenue North where a victim had been shot in the parking lot. They said the victim was transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The suspect fled the area in a vehicle prior to the officers’ arrival. The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigators processed the scene, and the investigation is ongoing.

A man was shot and killed inside a vehicle in Minneapolis about 1:15 a.m. Monday near the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Walker Art Center (top photo). Police were initially dispatched on a report of a two-vehicle crash near Lyndale Avenue South and Vineland Place, according to dispatch audio. As police were responding, the dispatcher updated police that there was also a report of a shooting on the freeway that may be related.

Police arrived and found a Dodge Charger with Wisconsin plates “full of bullet holes” and a male inside shot in the head who was unresponsive. Further audio indicated he was also shot in the groin area and that CPR was being performed on the way to the hospital. There was also a Prius on site that was reportedly involved in the incident.

MPD later released a statement confirming that a male in his 20s had died from his injuries. The initial investigation indicates that shots were heard near Hennepin Ave and Vineland Place. A vehicle driven by the deceased male was traveling south on Hennepin from Dunwoody Blvd and then crashed into a vehicle stopped at a red light which contained two males. MPD said those males reported no injuries. Police located evidence of gunfire on Hennepin Avenue and reported that witnesses saw another vehicle leave the area at a high rate of speed. No arrests had been made as of early Monday.

Around Minnesota

Three people were charged in Blue Earth County District Court on Thursday after the sheriff’s office reported earlier in the week that three Mankato area juvenile teens had overdosed on suspected counterfeit fentanyl. Two of the teens were later released from the hospital while one remained in critical condition last week.

Damarcus Deontay Holloway, 26, Tia Renee Schwichtenberg, 35, and Patrick Orerigho Isiakpere Jr., 31, all from the Mankato area, were charged with varying counts involving narcotics sales, weapons and child endangerment.

Charges say Isiakpere and Holloway met up on Jan. 30 with two juveniles and drove in two separate vehicles to Minneapolis to pick up 300 fentanyl-laced pills at a residence. Holloway was armed with a gun which he later gave to Isiakpere, one of the teens told police.

Police later executed search warrants at a Mankato residence and upon vehicles associated with the suspects. Schwichtenberg’s toddler was in one of the vehicles seated next to a backpack that contained a handgun and fentanyl pills, as well as children’s homework and school paperwork, according to the charges.

Court records show that prosecutors have filed motions in all three cases to seek aggravated sentencing due to the crimes being committed in the presence of children. Records show Schwichtenberg bonded out of custody following an initial court appearance on Thursday. Holloway and Isiakpere remained jailed on Monday morning. Read more about the case from Alpha News.

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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.


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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.