Twin Cities weekend crime recap

Ten members of a meth distribution ring in Rochester were arrested, Minneapolis recorded its 59th homicide, a 15-year-old was charged with criminal vehicular homicide, and much more in this week's weekend crime recap.

Minneapolis Fire Department responds to a structure fire near W Franklin and Lyndale Ave S. (Twitter/BadNewsWolves)

A Shakopee woman was charged in Ramsey County Court on Thursday accused of fleeing a crash, punching a St. Paul officer in the face, illegally carrying a firearm, and driving under the influence. Charges say on Wednesday, Aug. 17, a St. Paul officer in his personal vehicle observed a white SUV run a red light at Concordia Avenue at Hamline Avenue North and strike the passenger side of another vehicle. The white SUV didn’t stop and fled the scene. The SUV came to a stop a block or two away, and multiple squads responded. The driver, later identified as Shakeela Caprice Churcher, 30, refused multiple times to exit the vehicle. The charges say officers could smell a strong odor of alcohol and saw an open bottle of liquor in the back seat on the driver’s side.

Shakeela Caprice Churcher/Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office

Churcher continued to refuse to exit the vehicle and was becoming more agitated and uncooperative, the charges say. Churcher was also reaching around the vehicle toward the floorboards. Officers told her to stop reaching around, to show her hands, and continued to ask her to exit the vehicle. Despite multiple commands, Churcher continued to refuse. Eventually officers were able to secure her hands, but she got her right hand free and punched one of the officers in the right side of his face. When Churcher turned around to punch the officer, a handgun fell to the backseat floor from under the driver’s lap. A later check revealed that Churcher did not have a valid permit to carry a gun.

Churcher has been charged with three gross misdemeanor counts of carrying a pistol without a permit, fourth-degree assault on a police officer, and obstructing the legal process, as well as two misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree DWI and leaving the scene of a crash. Churcher made her first court appearance on Friday and was granted a public defender. Jail records indicate Churcher remained in custody as of noon on Monday; however, court records indicate she’s been granted conditional release with zero bail required by Judge Kellie Charles. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 5.

A St. Paul man was charged with second-degree attempted murder on Thursday after police found a 39-year-old woman shot in the head and hip inside a house on the 700 block of Sherburne Ave in St. Paul on Wednesday night. Charges say Sherman Banks, 34, had previously been served with a domestic abuse no contact order (DANCO) out of Scott County in relation to a domestic assault case prohibiting him from having contact with the victim or going to the address on Sherburne Avenue. The victim was able to tell police that Banks shot her in front of her kids. After being transported to the hospital, the victim was able to further tell police that she’d gotten into a verbal argument with Banks and he pulled out a black revolver with a long barrel and shot her. The three children who had fled to a neighbor’s house also confirmed to police that Banks had shot their mother with a black revolver “three or four times.” Police later located Banks at another St. Paul address on St. Anthony Avenue and he was taken into custody.

Sherman Banks/Dakota County Sheriff’s Office warrant mugshot

Banks has a lengthy history of court cases including felony convictions on aggravated robbery and narcotics, making him ineligible to possess firearms. Banks also has other convictions on burglary, trespassing and numerous convictions for driving after revocation. Court documents say Banks also has several open warrants including for burglary. Banks remained in custody in Ramsey County Jail as of Monday on $700,000 bail. He is next scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 5.

West St. Paul police reported Thursday that an arrest had been made in two recent bank robberies. Brian Kelly Kromschroeder, 60, has been charged with two felony counts of simple robbery. Charges say he presented notes, and no weapons were seen. Kromschroeder remained in custody as of Monday on $100,000 bail, $5,000 with conditions.

New Hope police reported last week that officers received a call about two suspicious males leaving a business on the 7200 block of Bass Lake Road. The males were reported to have asked questions of the employees about the business’s safe and were reported to be in possession of firearms. After checking the area, officers located two males near the 7500 block of Bass Lake Road matching the description provided by employees walking back toward the business. One male was detained while the other fled on foot. The male who was detained was found to be in possession of a loaded handgun with no serial number. Additional officers arriving on scene quickly located the second suspect after he leaped a fence and fell down a small hill where he was arrested. A loaded handgun was also recovered in the area where the suspect had fallen. New Hope police said the arrest of the suspects likely thwarted an armed robbery.

Jail records show two 23-year-old males were booked into custody on probable cause weapons charges.

Court records show Hassan Tariq Jones, 23, of New Hope, was charged on Friday with a gross misdemeanor count of carrying a pistol without a permit and misdemeanor count of fleeing police. Charges say the two males were in the store for over 30 minutes and asked questions about “safe drops” while showing two pistols.

Court records indicate Jones was released from custody after being charged on Friday after posting a $6,000 bond prior to making an initial court appearance. He’s scheduled to make a first court appearance on the charges on Sept. 28.

The other 23-year-old male from Minneapolis was released from custody on Friday without being formally charged. Information wasn’t immediately available on whether charges are being considered for that suspect.

The Minneapolis Fire Department responded Friday just after 10 a.m. to a structure fire at the former Rudolph’s BBQ building located at the corner of West Franklin Avenue and Lyndale Avenue South (top photo). Crews indicated that the fire was located on the back side of the building, according to dispatch audio. MFD had the fire knocked down in about 20 minutes and checked inside.

MFD later updated that the building was vacant and boarded and that there was a homeless encampment in the rear of the building. No injuries were reported and the fire was placed under investigation.

A Minneapolis man who charges say fired a shot at another motorist last week was released from custody at Hennepin County Jail with zero bail required on Friday. Charges say a Homeland Security (HSI) agent working in north Minneapolis last Monday observed a male, later identified as Christopher James Jones, 30, nearly collide with another vehicle and then fired a shot at the vehicle. Police worked to track down the vehicle after receiving the information from the HSI agent. An ATF agent also working in Minneapolis spotted the vehicle traveling on Plymouth Avenue North. Police were not immediately authorized to pursue the vehicle because the original victim had not yet made a report, according to dispatch audio at the time. The vehicle sped away as police lost sight of it. In the interim, the victim called 911 to report the incident, charges say. Officers continued to search the area for the vehicle and eventually saw a male and a female walking near 8th and Elwood Avenue North. Police aired that the male matched the description of the male that had been observed from the suspect vehicle, and the two were detained. Police also eventually found the Impala at an address on 12th and Morgan Avenue North. Inside the vehicle, police located a spent shell casing and a gun, according to the criminal complaint.

Christopher James Jones/Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office

Jones was booked and charged with felony counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and fleeing police in a vehicle. Jones made his first court appearance on Thursday and was subsequently ordered conditionally released with zero bail required by Judicial Officer Lyonel Norris. Jones is scheduled to make his next court appearance on Sept. 15.

On Friday, U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Andrew Luger headed a press conference to give updates on a joint violent crime strategy which has been in place in Minnesota and the Twin Cities since spring. Luger gave an overview of several “high risk” suspects who’d recently been arrested and stated that violent crime statistics for Minnesota are “alarming.” Luger stated that shootings, carjackings and gang activity are at or near all-time highs in the Twin Cities. Luger said the message of federal prosecution seems to be reaching the street, “but we have a long way to go.”

Hopkins police reported on Friday that they responded to two separate burglary reports of occupied dwellings that morning. Police said they quickly identified a suspect and with the help of Minneapolis police arrested Efrain Almestica, 33, who court records indicate has no permanent address. Almestica was booked into custody on probable cause burglary and at least twelve felony and other warrants.

One of the open felony warrants involves a case in which Almestica was captured on video last fall ramming a vehicle into a Bloomington apartment building after trying to flee police. Almestica’s other warrants include multiple burglaries, including occupied dwellings, multiple fleeing police, auto theft and obstruction.

Almestica was recently granted stayed sentences in four felony cases in Washington and Hennepin counties, despite the fact that he had numerous open felony cases stretching back to at least 2020 as well as having been charged in new cases just prior to receiving the stayed sentences.

Court records show that Minnesota Freedom Fund bailed out Almestica back in September on the Washington County case involving a charge of auto theft, despite the fact that Almestica had at least two other open cases at that time in which he was charged with first-degree burglary, which is considered a violent crime under Minnesota law. Almestica was subsequently charged in November in the Bloomington fleeing case captured on video, referenced above, as well as another Bloomington fleeing case just days prior to that, both felonies.

Almestica was charged on Monday in the new Hopkins burglary cases with two felony counts of first-degree burglary of occupied dwellings. He remained in custody with the court record showing a bail amount of $250,000 in the new case and is scheduled to make his first court appearance on the charges on Tuesday.

St. Paul police announced on Friday that an arrest had been made in the hit-and-run death of 70-year-old Phoua Hang last month. A 15-year-old boy has been charged in juvenile court with criminal vehicular homicide.

Phoua Hang/Facebook

Police were called to the intersection of Forest Street North and Magnolia Avenue East on July 17 about 10 p.m. where they found a vehicle containing Hang and her husband which had been struck by a stolen Kia. The driver and occupants fled from the Kia following the crash. Police didn’t say whether the teen was the driver or a passenger in the Kia, and the case continues to be investigated. The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office has filed a petition to have the teen tried as an adult.

Minneapolis police responded to a shooting Friday just after 2 p.m. on the 2200 block of 10th Avenue South, according to dispatch audio. When police arrived, there was an indication that two people had been shot and that one victim may have gotten into a vehicle. Police later aired that the shooting occurred during an attempted carjacking by three black males who all had pistols. An approximately 33-year-old man was transported from the site by EMS and was reported to have been shot in the thigh and calf. Police later told media that the man had potentially life-threatening gunshot wounds.

The dispatcher later aired that a shooting victim had arrived at Abbott Hospital who was later reported to have a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. The victim was reported by police at the time to be uncooperative, and information was later aired indicating the person could possibly be a suspect in the carjacking. Confirmation on the second victim’s connection to the incident wasn’t immediately available.

Minneapolis police on Saturday announced that a woman who had been shot at 9th and Nicollet Mall on Aug. 10 had died, marking the city’s 59th homicide. The victim has since been identified by the medical examiner as Shawna Starr Campbell, 25. The suspect, Perishea Laray Young, 23, turned herself in to authorities hours after the shooting and remains in custody having already been charged with second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault involving great bodily harm. The altercation and shooting were captured on video, and Young later admitted to police that she shot the victim but claimed it was self-defense. The criminal complaint states that the video does not corroborate Young’s claim that the victim reached into her purse for something. The video showed the victim to be unarmed, and at no time did she advance on Young during the encounter. Charges are expected to be upgraded in light of the death.

A Shoreview gas station was robbed Saturday just before 11 p.m. on the 5900 block of Rice Creek Parkway, according to dispatch audio. The dispatcher indicated the robbery was captured on video. The suspects were reported by responders to be two males, one in a white hoodie, the other in a black hoodie. Responders indicated that no gun was displayed but the suspects got away with cash. Responders utilized a K9 to track in the area as well as a State Patrol air unit until nearly 12:30 a.m. Sunday, and the suspects were not located at that time. No public information was issued about the robbery by law enforcement.

Around Minnesota

Duluth police reported that they responded Thursday about 8 p.m. on a report of a male firing a weapon into the air on the 5800 block of Cody Street. Police set up a perimeter around the home where the male had barricaded himself. Phone contact was made with the male, later identified as 22-year-old Terrell Richard Edwards.

Edwards eventually surrendered peacefully and was taken into custody without incident. Edwards was charged on Friday with intentional discharge of a firearm that endangers safety and reckless discharge of a firearm within a municipality, both felonies. Charges say Edwards fired a shotgun into the air and that the incident was captured on video.

Court records indicate that Edwards was released from custody following his initial court appearance with zero bail required despite the prosecutor’s recommendation for bail due to the “significant distress in the neighborhood” caused by Edwards’ actions. The prosecutor stated in a memo that a group of young men playing basketball believed that Edwards was shooting at them. Edwards’ next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 13.

Included in the Friday press conference by U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger was the announcement of the arrest of 10 people in Rochester, Minn., allegedly involved in a large-scale methamphetamine distribution operation that also involved the use of high-powered firearms. Luger said DEA agents worked with local law enforcement to arrest the suspects. Charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine are Edward Gary Kearns, Scott Christopher Dobbelaere, Samuel Orlo Schafer, Lisa Christine Phillips, James Lee Nelson, Mercedes Kay Milliken, Jerry Lee Milliken, Lisa Marie Musolf, Marshall Michael Galbreath, and Aaron Raymond Dombovy. All remained in custody as of noon Monday.

Law enforcement responded Saturday morning to Pine Island, which spans Goodhue and Olmsted counties, on a report of a domestic dispute. According to an initial social media post by the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office, an individual involved in the incident began to make threats to use a firearm against law enforcement and stated they were holding a hostage. As a result, SWAT teams from both counties responded to the site and an eventual “Code Red Alert” was issued to nearby residents to shelter in place. Law enforcement eventually determined there were no hostages in the residence. Negotiations continued with the individual for several hours. After receiving a signed warrant, SWAT teams deployed less lethal rounds. The individual fired back at officers and struck law enforcement vehicles. The individual eventually surrendered and was taken into custody around 8 p.m., and there were no injuries reported, according to an updated release by the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office. Olmsted County booking records show Michael Molitor was jailed on probable cause charges of threats of violence, first-degree assault, and fourth-degree assault of a peace officer. Charges are expected through the Olmsted County Attorney’s Office.

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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.