Twin Cities weekend crime recap

Four people were shot in one incident in Minneapolis, three people were murdered in St. Paul, and two separate shootings took place at or near the Minnesota State Fair.

Minneapolis police respond to a shots fired scene in Uptown. (Submitted to Crime Watch)

Janice Louise Hawkins-Green, 39, was charged Thursday in Hennepin County with second-degree manslaughter following the shooting death of her boyfriend last week in southeast Minneapolis, marking the city’s 60th homicide.

Janice Louise Hawkins-Green (Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office)

Police were called just after noon on Monday, Aug. 29 to an address on the 2400 block of Cole Avenue Southeast on a report of an accidental shooting in which the reporting party said that a male had been shot in the stomach, according to dispatch audio at the time. Police later released a statement saying the male had died at the hospital following the shooting which they said took place during a verbal altercation. The victim was subsequently identified as Mark Holmes O’Dell, 36.

Charges say Hawkins-Green told police the two had been arguing and she told him to gather his things and leave the house. Hawkins-Green said she went to her vehicle and got O’Dell’s sweatshirt, gun, and several other items to give to him. She told police she accidentally pulled the trigger while shoving the gun and sweatshirt at O’Dell.

The criminal complaint noted that the Springfield XD Elite handgun recovered by police at the scene is equipped with a backstrap safety as well as a trigger safety. The gun has to be held tight on the grip to depress the backstrap safety and the trigger safety has to be depressed for the trigger to move and the gun to fire; both safeties have to be depressed to fire the gun. In a second statement to police on Sept. 1, Hawkins-Green told officers she had been holding the gun by the grip, with her finger on the trigger, and the barrel pointing toward O’Dell when she was shoving it at him.

Hawkins-Green made her initial court appearance on Friday, and records show she has retained a private attorney. Hawkins-Green posted a $100,000 bond and was released from custody late Friday night. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 14.

Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges held a press conference on Thursday to announce sexual assault charges against a 28-year-old Robbinsdale school district teacher, Matthew Anderson Bertsch. Charges say Bertsch, of Richfield, sexually assaulted two of his male cousins as minors “well over 100 times” for several years.

Chief Hodges said the victims showed up at the Bloomington police department in August to report the assaults, which took place at a residence in Bloomington for a period spanning about eight years. The victims reported they were now going through therapy and were ages 10 and 11 years old when the assaults began.

Bertsch was assigned to be a middle-school teacher at Fair School in the city of Crystal where he was arrested last week. Hodges said Bertsch was a gym teacher at Plymouth Middle School last year and had received his license to teach from the State of Minnesota in 2019.

Matthew Anderson Bertsch (Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office)

Bertsch has been charged with two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of using minors in pornographic work, all felonies. Bertsch had a hearing in Hennepin County Court on Friday and another scheduled for Tuesday and remained in custody as of Tuesday with no attorney listed. Court records show a bail amount of $300,000.

Crystal police on Friday offered information on what had caused a house to explode in their city last week. Police said the homeowner told them he’d been trying to extract THC oil from marijuana at the residence located on the 5800 block of Perry Avenue North on Sunday, Aug. 28. The resident was hospitalized with burn injuries following the blast that blew the door off and caused debris to land in the neighbor’s yard. The case continues to be investigated by Crystal police and the fire marshal. The findings are expected to be turned over to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for consideration of charges.

Shots were fired at employees outside a St. Paul Target store on Friday just before 2 p.m., according to dispatch audio. There were no immediate reports of injuries at the store located at 1744 Suburban Avenue in the Battle Creek neighborhood. Further dispatch audio stated the suspect was reported to be an older white male who got out of a vehicle and fired shots.

Police were able to track down the vehicle from the incident and took a suspect into custody within 30 minutes from an address on the 300 block of Van Dyke Street.

Fa Lee (Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

Court records show Fa Lee, 37, of St. Paul was charged Tuesday with six counts of second-degree attempted murder. Charges say when police arrived, Lee said, “Y’all came for me.” Lee had a loaded Glock handgun in his waistband, and officers discovered that Lee had a permit to carry a firearm out of Ramsey County.

Lee told police his wife got stabbed in the chest and he could feel the pain and admitted he went to Target and shot somebody. Lee said his wife’s voice in his head told him the guy in the gray shirt was the person who stabbed her. Lee shot at them while sitting in his car and then got out and continued firing at them as they ran away. Lee thought he shot one of the men, and he got back in his car and went home. Police recovered 12 spent shell casings from the scene.

Lee’s family told police that Lee isn’t married and doesn’t have a girlfriend. They denied noticing any strange behavior from Lee and denied Lee mentioned wanting to hurt anyone recently. Lee made his first court appearance in Ramsey County Court on Tuesday and was granted a public defender. A competency evaluation was ordered by the judge, and Lee remained in custody Tuesday afternoon on $500,000 bail.

Ja’Vaughn Elija Marquise Tieh, 24, was charged in Anoka County Friday with felony counts of first-degree aggravated robbery, theft, first-degree criminal damage to property and fleeing police after his apprehension on Wednesday following a police pursuit in Coon Rapids. Tieh also had 34 active warrants at the time of his arrest.

Javaughn Elijah Marquise Tieh (Ramsey County warrant mugshot)

Following the pursuit, Coon Rapids police released a statement that said officers had been called to a business on a theft that had just occurred. Their special team of retail COPPS officers were in the area and observed two people running out of the store with bags full of merchandise. Officers observed both people get into a vehicle which the officers attempted to stop. The driver of the vehicle subsequently fled after colliding into a parked vehicle.

Police said that while the driver was fleeing from officers, he created a dangerous risk to public safety by driving the wrong way on Hwy 10. Officers were able to disable the fleeing vehicle using a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) and the driver fled on foot while the passenger was taken into custody. CRPD said the driver forcefully removed the occupant of another nearby vehicle and attempted to flee again. Officers were quickly able to stop the driver and take him into custody.

CRPD subsequently posted a statement from the Anoka County Attorney’s office that said prosecutors had requested bail of $300,000 on the current charges, and also requested that Tieh be held in jail for a previous Anoka County probation violation. The court agreed and Tieh is being held in jail without bail.

Court records show numerous active warrants from at least 15 jurisdictions including other states that include charges of numerous thefts, fleeing police, damage to property, identity theft, robbery and fugitive from justice.

Court records also show that Tieh has at least 55 prior Minnesota convictions that include nine felonies. Records show that prison sentences on all felony convictions were originally stayed by judges in the counties of Anoka, Hennepin and Ramsey between 2016 and 2021.

A person was reportedly shot in Minneapolis Friday around 5 p.m. following a traffic crash that spawned a fight with shots fired, according to dispatch audio. The initial crash was reported at East Lake Street and 12th Avenue South. A gunshot victim who had been shot in the leg was found about 20 minutes later behind a nearby church. State Patrol also responded and reportedly found a discarded firearm at East 29th Street and 12th Avenue South, which was reported to be the scene of the shooting. No public statement was issued by MPD about the shooting.

Four people were shot in Minneapolis Friday just after 7 p.m. outside Merwin Liquors at West Broadway Avenue and Lyndale Avenue North. Police initially found three victims and a fourth was located several minutes later, according to dispatch audio. Police aired over dispatch that a tourniquet was being applied to one victim and another had been shot in the stomach. Police later told media that two men and two women had suffered injuries that were potentially life threatening. A police spokesperson said initial information indicated that a fight had occurred inside the business and then spilled out to the parking lot. Police said information indicated that some of the parties entered a vehicle and that shots were fired from that vehicle before fleeing. No suspect information was immediately available.

Shots were fired in Uptown Minneapolis at bar close early Saturday morning (top photo). The dispatcher aired just after 2 a.m. that a male and female were physically fighting outside of Reign Event Center near Lagoon and Hennepin avenues but that the participants had come out of Williams Uptown Pub. The dispatcher said that bystanders were starting to join in when a sergeant inquired whether there were any off-duty officers working in the area. As an off-duty officer working at Reign replied, shots could be heard in the background of the dispatch, and he called out that shots had been fired.

Multiple squads responded to the area to check for any victims; none were immediately found. About 10 minutes later, the dispatcher aired that two gunshot victims had been dropped off from a private vehicle at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. The dispatcher then aired that the vehicle that had dropped off the victims was reported to be doing donuts in front of the emergency room entrance. Hospital security staff were subsequently reported to be fighting with the occupants of the vehicle.

Police later told media that a woman with an injured hand was taken to Abbott Hospital but didn’t indicate that anyone had been shot. Police said that four people were arrested on various charges. Information on their names and charges was not immediately available.

An audio clip was later posted online that was reported to be the sound of shots from the original incident. Approximately 18 to 20 shots can be heard in the recording.

A person was shot at the Minnesota State Fair in Falcon Heights on Saturday night following a series of fights and skirmishes that had broken out near the Midway. Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said in a statement the following day that law enforcement had spotted gang members in the crowd during several fights that had taken place. Just after 10 p.m., an officer called out “shots fired” at the mouth of the Midway and said the suspect fled on foot. A victim later approached fire medics and was transported to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg. Fairgoers were ushered out of the grounds and the fair closed down early following the incident. Sheriff Fletcher indicated Sunday that law enforcement knew who the shooter was and were also familiar with his associates. There had been no word on whether the shooter had been taken into custody as of Monday night.

Lakeville police reported that they responded to a shooting early Sunday morning on the 19100 block of Orchard Trail. Police received a call about 3:33 a.m. regarding a 23-year-old male who had suffered a gunshot wound. Life-saving measures were provided and the male was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Police said in their statement that they were not searching for any suspects and did not believe there was a threat to the public.

Three people were killed in St. Paul on Sunday in a shooting homicide on the 900 block of Case Avenue East. Two others were also injured in the shooting. Police responded around 4:30 p.m. to a report of a shooting where they found two injured parties outside the house and three others with gunshot wounds inside the house. Police spokesperson Sgt. Mike Ernster said in a statement following the incident that police had been called to the residence 17 times in the past year, including calls for aggravated assault and domestic crimes.

Interim St. Paul Police Chief Jeremy Ellison said in a community press conference on Monday that they were making progress in the investigation with the help of community members coming forward with information. When asked if police knew who they were looking for, Chief Ellison replied, “We believe we do, yes,” but declined to expand on details of whether more than one suspect was being sought citing the ongoing investigation. The chief did say that investigators had ruled out that the incident was domestic related.

The three decedents were identified Monday as Angelica M. Gonzales, 33, Cory U. Freeman, 42, and Maisha M. Spaulding, 44, all of St. Paul. The three homicides brought the city’s total to 27 for the year and followed another shooting homicide less than a week earlier on Aug. 31 near Rice Street and Manitoba Avenue.

First responders in New Brighton were dispatched Monday on a report of a drowning at Long Lake where they eventually recovered the body of a 77-year-old man who apparently fell in while fishing and drowned. A 911 caller reported about 12:10 p.m. that they thought they could see their father in the water, according to dispatch audio at the time. Further audio indicated that an off-duty first responder on scene had swum out to the male in the water. CPR was subsequently performed but the male was pronounced deceased. His name had not been released as of Monday night.

Several incidents were reported as the Minnesota State Fair closed down its final night, including another shooting outside the grounds. St. Paul police responded to the shooting Monday night just east of Snelling and Como avenues, according to police dispatch audio. Police in the area indicated that they heard shots fired just after 8:30 p.m. and then were approached by a party who said their brother had been shot. Police quickly located a victim with two gunshot wounds to the upper torso near the Shanghai Market on Como. The victim’s brother told police they were just walking down the street when someone shot at his brother. Police later released information saying an 18-year-old male had been transported to the hospital with injuries that were not believed to be life threatening.

Another report surfaced online of a male seen with a gun in his hand on the grounds of the State Fair about 8:20 p.m. following a fight near Liggitt and Chambers. Dispatch audio at the time confirmed the incident. An officer also aired that he received reports from bystanders about shots fired during the incident.

About 10:10 p.m., dispatch audio indicated a fight broke out in the area outside the fairgrounds. Traffic camera video showed a group of about three to five people punching and kicking another individual in the middle of an intersection. Fireworks were launched at police as they responded to the scene.

Around Minnesota

St. Cloud police reported Friday around 12:30 p.m. that they were investigating a report of gunshots heard on the 1500 block of 6th Avenue South. They said there was a large police response to the area, and no injured parties were immediately located. SCPD later updated that two males had been fighting and that one male broke away and fled while firing multiple rounds back at the other male. SCPD requested anyone with information to call the SCPD at 320-251-1200 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 255-1301.

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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.