Twin Cities weekend crime recap

Six teens were injured in a mass shooting in Brooklyn Center Sunday; a man stabbed his wife to death in the middle of a Bible study group in St. Paul; police released video of a chase involving a criminal on Hennepin County's Most Wanted list.

A chronic offender who has been wanted on warrants for months and is a suspect in several other crimes across the metro was finally captured in Maplewood late Wednesday night following a pursuit and PIT maneuver by the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office.

A chronic offender who has been wanted on warrants for months and is a suspect in several other crimes across the metro was finally captured in Maplewood late Wednesday night following a pursuit and PIT maneuver by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO).

Luke Steven Stringfellow, 39, was taken into custody shortly after 10 p.m. in the 1800 block of North Beaumont Street. The same suspect vehicle Stringfellow was driving had been involved in a Minneapolis pursuit about an hour prior. That pursuit was discontinued after the vehicle fled the wrong way into oncoming traffic, according to dispatch audio.

Luke Steven Stringfellow (Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

RCSO subsequently released video of the end of the pursuit and the PIT maneuver that showed Stringfellow climb onto the roof of the vehicle after it was pinned against a snowbank. A deputy can be seen deploying a taser, but it was unclear whether it made contact. Stringfellow was taken into custody a short distance away after being tackled by a St. Paul police officer, RCSO said.

The RCSO said a gun was found in the vehicle following Stringfellow’s apprehension. He was charged in Ramsey County District Court on Friday with four new felonies stemming from the pursuit, including theft of a motor vehicle, fleeing police in a motor vehicle, and two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition.

Charges say police discovered that the Volvo Stringfellow was driving had been stolen on March 20 from a Maplewood dealership. Stolen lockboxes and items in other people’s names were also recovered from the Volvo.

At the time of his arrest on Wednesday, Stringfellow was wanted on multiple felony and other warrants from multiple jurisdictions including the counties of Anoka, Wright, and Hennepin. The RSCO also said Stringfellow was a suspect in a Fridley robbery last week involving the same Volvo.

Stringfellow was also on Hennepin County’s Most Wanted list at the time of his arrest where he was named as a suspect in a Dec. 9, 2022, carjacking in Minneapolis where flammable liquid was thrown on the female victim.

Minnesota court records show that Stringfellow has 39 prior convictions including 21 felonies stretching back to 2003, including crimes of violence that prohibit him from possessing firearms.

Stringfellow remains in custody on warrant holds as well as $50,000 bail on the new charges.

Violent offender Robert Castillo, 40, was charged in Ramsey County Court on Thursday in the St. Paul stabbing homicide of his wife Corrina Woodhull, 41, in the middle of a Bible study group last Tuesday.

Robert Castillo (Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

Charges say police arrived about 9 p.m. Tuesday at the residence on the 1000 block of Maryland Avenue East on a report of a stabbing and found Woodhull on the floor bleeding from injuries to her torso, chest, and arms.

Castillo was being held to the floor by several other people. A witness told officers a knife located on the armrest of a couch had been taken from Castillo.

The stabbing occurred in the home of Castillo’s sister, GC, who was hosting the weekly study group.

Corrina Woodhull (Facebook)

GC told police that Woodhull and Castillo came over for the Bible study and were sitting on a couch and were acting normally. Castillo held Woodhull’s hand and kissed her and then whispered something into Woodhull’s ear. After Woodhull shook her head no, Castillo pulled out a hunting knife with a 6-inch blade and stabbed Woodhull about 20 times. GC got up, grabbed Castillo’s hair, and tried to pull him off Woodhull. Other family members intervened and got Castillo to stop stabbing Woodhull, and they held him down. Another witness provided a similar account of events and said that Castillo stabbed Woodhull in the face first before stabbing her all over her body. GC told police that Castillo had a thing about carrying a knife all the time to protect himself.

GC told police she had seen Castillo hit a different woman, who was the mother of Castillo’s child, with a hammer. The incident with the hammer also occurred at GC’s home. Castillo broke the woman’s arm and cracked her head open with the hammer. GC said that incident with the hammer was a long time ago and she thought Castillo was getting better.

Police also spoke to Castillo’s brother, JC, who was present in the home during the incident. He said the couple were having marital problems but had been at the Bible study about 90 minutes and were getting along with no signs of hostility. JC said when he came out of the bathroom, he saw Castillo standing over Woodhull with a huge, military-style knife in
his hand. JC saw Castillo stab Woodhull about ten times with the knife before the rest of the family tackled Castillo and disarmed him.

Castillo has a history of convictions on violent crimes and was under “intensive supervised release” having just been released from prison in August on a conviction on second-degree assault in the case where he beat his former girlfriend with a hammer. Castillo’s other convictions include two convictions on fourth-degree assault of a peace officer resulting in demonstrable harm, first-degree assault involving great bodily harm in a case where he repeatedly stabbed a roommate, dangerous discharge of a firearm, second-degree possession of methamphetamine, felon in possession of a firearm, and second-degree burglary – in total, eight felony convictions.

Castillo was also wanted on an active felony warrant at the time of his arrest in another case on a charge of fourth-degree assault on a prison guard involving substantial bodily harm. The case was charged in 2020 while Castillo was incarcerated in Stillwater Correctional Facility. He had failed to show up for recent hearings multiple times since November and a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

Castillo has been charged with second-degree murder with intent but not premeditated. He remains in custody on $5 million bail.

School officials from Edison High School in Northeast Minneapolis notified parents that they discovered that a student had brought an unloaded gun to school in a backpack on Thursday. Bullets were also found in the bag. The student reportedly told school staff that they carried the gun due to “safety concerns in the community.”

The notification stated that Edison staff will be conducting random bag searches upon entry to school in an effort to deter future incidents.

Marquis Deonte Gardner, 32, of Brooklyn Park and Anthony Leandre Winston, 37 of Andover were charged Friday in Hennepin County District Court in connection to a drive-by shooting on Feb. 21 in north Minneapolis that resulted in the death of passenger Alexis Rae Rodriguez, 28, and injury to the driver of the vehicle.

Marquis Deonte Gardner and Anthony Leandre Winston (Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office)

Gardner has been charged with felony counts of aid/abet second-degree murder and aid-abet attempted second-degree murder. Winston has been charged with two felony counts of aiding an offender after the fact.

Charges say a known witness told police that Gardner had a “significant ongoing conflict” with the driver of the vehicle who was shot and injured in the incident. Following his arrest, Gardner admitted the conflict to police and said that the injured driver had previously robbed him at gunpoint in the past.

Police were able to use surveillance images from the time of the shooting to track down the suspect vehicle which was described as a distinctive white Tahoe. Surveillance showed the Tahoe pull up to the passenger side of the victims’ vehicle and fire shots through the passenger window. Police later obtained surveillance video that showed Gardner and Winston arrive in the Tahoe at a residence in Brooklyn Center about 20 minutes after the murder. Gardner was the driver and Winston was the passenger.

The Tahoe was later found unoccupied by police who learned that the vehicle had been reported stolen by the registered owner approximately 15 hours after the shooting. Investigators learned that the registered owner and her boyfriend, Winston, had been involved in previous incidents with firearms during which the Tahoe was used. The registered owner later told police that Gardner had been driving the Tahoe on the day of the murder.

Investigators also obtained cellphone data that placed Winston at the scene of the homicide, and at the Brooklyn Center residence, and the following morning at the site where the Tahoe was eventually found by police.

A Shotspotter activation from the time of the shooting on the 2600 block of West Broadway Avenue recorded eleven rounds fired. The victims self-transported to North Memorial hospital where Rodriquez, who was shot in the head, was pronounced deceased. The driver of the vehicle sustained five gunshot wounds and survived. Police found at least eleven bullet holes in the victims’ vehicle.

Court records show Gardner was out of custody on bail in another case involving a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm at the time of the shooting. Winston was taken into custody last Tuesday; Gardner was taken into custody on Thursday.

Both suspects remain in custody on $1 million bail each.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office reported that they pulled over a vehicle on Friday for an obstructed license plate that ultimately resulted in the arrest of two people, the recovery of a “ghost gun” with no serial number with an extended magazine, and over 55 grams of marijuana.

Court records show Jake Edward Mischel, 19, of St. Paul, and Nadia Alice Morneau, 18, of Maplewood were charged on Monday each with one felony count of possession of a firearm without a serial number and one count of gross misdemeanor carrying a firearm without a permit. Charges say both parties admitted to police that they jointly owned the gun and had purchased it for $500 from an unknown individual in the east side of St. Paul. No drug charges were listed for either party.

Prosecutors filed recommendations with the court in each case that the presiding judge set bail at $20,000 unconditional or $5,000 with conditions. However, court records show Washington County Judge Francis Green, III, set a zero-dollar bail amount for conditional release in each case. Both parties are scheduled to make their next court appearances on May 11.

The Minneapolis Police Department provided a brief update on Saturday regarding their prior search for information on a vehicle that had been wanted in connection to a Jan. 16 hit and run at 26th and Lyndale Avenue South. They said with the help of the Edina Police Department, they had identified the van and a possible suspect. No further information was offered.

There was a massive law enforcement response to the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis Saturday night following an initial report that a gun had been fired in the concourse during the final game of the Minnesota State High School League boys basketball tournament finals.

Police eventually determined that no shots had been fired but said a fight had occurred in the concourse before 9 p.m.

Crime Watch Minneapolis obtained a brief video clip that appears to show eight to 12 people stomping on one person already on the ground.

Police eventually released a statement confirming the “fight” but offered no information on whether any suspects had been identified or arrested, nor any information on the condition of the person who was being stomped. Read the full report on Alpha News.

Eden Prairie police searched inside the library near Eden Prairie Center Sunday just after 4 p.m. for a suspect who reportedly stole a gun from inside a vehicle in the parking lot of Scheels sporting goods at the mall.

Independent photojournalist Rebecca Brannon happened to be on site waiting for a relative who was inside the library when the incident played out.

Brannon told Crime Watch she was in the parking lot of the library when she heard police sirens and noticed a person in a hoodie go up some stairs on the side and enter the library. She said police came “flying” into the area, so she directed them into the library. Brannon’s video appears to show police with guns and/or tasers drawn while checking the library.

Brannon said she spoke to the victims of the theft who said they remotely unlocked their vehicle from a distance when they saw the suspect jump into the vehicle. When they got to the truck, they realized the suspect had stolen their gun and quickly called the police.

A spokesperson from the Eden Prairie Police Department responded to an email request for information from Alpha News and provided the following statement saying the gun had been recovered but the suspect was not located at the time:

“At approximately 4:15 p.m. Eden Prairie Police responded to the parking lot of Scheels on the report of a theft from auto. The vehicle owner witnessed the theft and chased a male suspect on foot across Prairie Center Drive to the Hennepin County Library as squads were responding. The vehicle owner told officers the suspect had taken a gun. Officers flooded the area and immediately recovered the discarded gun. The suspect got away and the investigation is ongoing.”

Six teens were injured in a mass shooting in Brooklyn Center Sunday on the 5600 block of Brooklyn Boulevard Service Road.

Social media reports began to appear before 7 p.m. including a video that appeared to capture the moments leading up to the shooting and the eruption of gunfire. The male who appeared to be filming the video appeared to be holding a gun with an extended magazine after the gunfire began.

Brooklyn Center police eventually released a statement saying they responded to the location about 6:45 p.m. on a report of shots fired.

Upon arrival, officers found multiple casings in the parking lot. It was eventually discovered that upwards of 50 or more casings were located from three different caliber weapons, they said. Officers canvased the area and did not locate any victims and began contacting hospitals. Police learned that one gunshot victim had arrived at an area hospital, and five more victims eventually arrived at the same hospital. Police reported that all six victims had non-life-threatening injuries, and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office told media that the victims appeared to be between the ages of 15 to 18 years old.

Multiple detectives were called in to assist in the investigation, and no suspects had been taken into custody at the time. Police said they are pursuing several active leads and they do not believe the incident was random.

Around Minnesota

The Faribault Police Department is seeking the public’s help with information on identifying a vehicle that fled the scene of a crash on Tuesday, March 21. The hit-and-run occurred about 9:30 a.m. on Willow Street. Police said the vehicle is possibly a dark colored pick-up with a topper. The vehicle should have significant front-end damage. Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Tony Larson a call at 507-331-1570.

Bemidji police reported that they responded Thursday about 1 p.m. to two separate reports of attempted abductions in the area of Birch Lane Northeast. Both adult female victims told police they were walking on Birch Lane Northeast when they were approached by a single male with long hair wearing a facemask, black leather coat and red hooded sweatshirt. The females reported that the male grabbed and held each of them against a vehicle parked on the street, again, in separate incidents. The male released each after they had screamed and walked north into the Bemidji State University campus toward 19th Street Northeast.

BSU Public Safety staff located video footage of the male on campus and were later able to identify the male as Jonathan Lee Staples, 25, of Cass Lake, Minn., and released surveillance photos of him.

Jonathan Lee Staples (Bemidji Police Dept)

Police said officers and detectives worked through the night in attempts to locate Staples and investigate many leads and tips. Police updated Friday evening that Staples had been located and taken into custody.

Jonathan Lee Staples (Beltrami County Jail)

Beltrami County Jail records show Staples was booked into custody on probable cause kidnapping.

Court records show Staples was charged on Monday with two gross misdemeanor counts of harassment, not kidnapping. Charges reiterate that a male suspect grabbed both women in separate incidents. One woman screamed to get away, the other woman told police she was terrified that she was going to be kidnapped.

Charges say law enforcement reviewed surveillance video following the incidents and spoke to staff at a nearby establishment on Bemidji Avenue who recognized Staples. They told police that Staples frequents their facility daily but has been asked not to due to his lewd behavior toward females. Staples was later located by police at Hotel Bemidji and was taken into custody.

Staples made his first court appearance on Monday morning, and bail was set at $6,000. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 5.

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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.