Twin Cities weekend crime recap

Crime Watch Minneapolis recaps crimes committed throughout the Twin Cities over the weekend.

Minneapolis police respond to shots fired near the Gay 90s. (Submitted to Crime Watch Minneapolis)

Minneapolis Black Lives Matter activist Cortez Rice was arrested in Akron, Ohio early Thursday morning. Rice gained notoriety late last year after being charged with felony harassment after leading a protest in Minneapolis outside what he believed to be the residence of Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu, the presiding judge in the Kim Potter trial. That charge was eventually dismissed. Rice had been in Ohio last week protesting the police shooting of Jayland Walker, a black man shot and killed by Akron police following a vehicle and foot pursuit. Rice was one of seven people arrested during the protest and was jailed just after 1 a.m. for rioting, disorderly conduct, and failure to disperse during a protest. Rice was released from custody later the same day on bond, according to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

Brooklyn Center police on Friday asked for the public’s help in identifying a burglary suspect. The male forced his way into a storage facility on the 5700 block of Logan Avenue north on July 2.

Police in Forest Lake responded Thursday about 1:20 p.m. to a report of shots fired that reportedly struck a vehicle on the 800 block of 15th Street Southwest, according to dispatch audio. The incident was originally reported as a domestic situation between two males at an auto sales business. While the 911 call-taker was on the open line, they reportedly heard shots fired during the call. A large contingent of law enforcement responders arrived at the scene. An officer aired that they could see a male in the woods. A witness on site told officers that the male in the woods was the person who fired shots, but they told police he was no longer armed. Further audio indicated that the incident had transpired between two males who worked at the business, and police were trying to sort out how the parties were involved. Police eventually indicated that they believed they had the suspect who fired shots in custody. A 71-year-old Columbia Heights man was arrested and booked into custody on probable cause second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and carrying a pistol without a permit. Jail records show the suspect was released on his own recognizance on Saturday, but the Forest Lake Police Department has confirmed that charges have been submitted for consideration to the county attorney.

Brooklyn Center police reported Thursday that they were called to the 5300 block of Russell Avenue North on a report of spent bullet casings on the ground near the building. Officers arrived and collected over 130 spent casings that included 9mm, .45cal and .22LR. There was also evidence that a shotgun was fired. While police were on scene, a resident of the complex claimed responsibility for firing rounds with his family on July 4th. The male was arrested and was cooperative. Detectives obtained a search warrant for the apartment and a vehicle where four firearms and dozens of rounds of ammunition were recovered. Monopolis D. Brown, 35, was charged in Hennepin County with two felony counts of reckless discharge of a firearm. Court records show he posted bond and was released from custody on Saturday. Brown was scheduled to make a first court appearance on Monday afternoon.

The incident was one of two in just days where police reported an extreme amount of rounds being fired in the city. On Wednesday, Brooklyn Center police recovered over 70 casings from a shots-fired incident on the 5800 block of Xerxes Avenue North. Connor Yoseph Green, 19, of Minneapolis, and Brian Xavier Jordan, 21, of Fridley were each charged with one count of second-degree riot in the case. Jordan has been charged with an additional count of reckless discharge of a firearm in a municipality.

Columbia Heights police on Thursday asked for the public’s help in identifying a suspect involved in a robbery and financial card fraud that occurred in the 500 block of 40th Avenue Northeast. The suspect was driving a silver SUV. Anyone with information is asked to contact Investigator Jackie Urbaniak at 763-706-8148 or by email at WHeonavnx@pbyhzovnurvtugfza.tbi.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced on Thursday his nomination for the new position of commissioner of community safety, Cedric Alexander. The Minneapolis City Council voted to approve the position last month which will oversee the leaders of the police, fire and 911 departments as well as the directors of Emergency Management and Public Information, and other safety-related departments and programs. Alexander previously served as a police chief in various cities and served on former President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Most recently, Alexander worked as a law enforcement analyst and commentator for MSNBC. The City Council must approve Alexander’s nomination, and that vote is expected later this month. Once approved, Alexander would be the highest paid city employee with a base salary expected of $300,000.

Shots were fired in Minneapolis’ Dinkytown neighborhood just after midnight Friday, leaving bullet damage inside student apartments and causing one business to close its doors indefinitely due to safety concerns. Police were dispatched to the 400 block of 13th Avenue Southeast about 12:30 a.m. on a report of shots fired, according to dispatch audio. The dispatcher initially stated that security in the area reported two people were shot, but no victims were found by police at the time. Social media videos were later posted online which showed bullet damage inside student apartments nearby. Popular eatery Burrito Loco, which also received bullet damage in the incident, posted online later Friday that they were closing their doors indefinitely out of concern for the safety of their employees and customers.

Charges were filed in Anoka County Friday against Benjamin Alexander Russell, 37, who admitted to smothering his 3-month-old infant daughter in 2009 at her home in Coon Rapids. Russell has been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter. Charges say Russell finally admitted to the child’s mother that he placed a pillow over the child’s face to muffle her crying and then went outside for a cigarette. The cause of death was originally determined to be positional asphyxia/suffocation based on statements by Russell at the time. Russell made his first court appearance Monday morning and remains in custody on $500,000 bail.

Benjamin Alexander Russell/Anoka County Jail

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher on Friday detailed what he called an “example of the failed juvenile justice system.” Fletcher explained on his “Live on Patrol” Facebook page that a juvenile theft and crime spree had taken place earlier in the week that stretched over several suburban cities including Edina, Eden Prairie, Roseville, Bloomington, and Minnetonka. The juveniles allegedly stole credit cards and other items, rummaged through vehicles and stole two vehicles from a residence in Minnetonka.

When the juveniles were finally apprehended at Mall of America in Bloomington, Fletcher said the teens were found with two guns. Fletcher said all three suspects have a history of auto theft, and two had a weapons history prior to the arrest. “THEY WERE RELEASED TO THEIR PARENTS because the Hennepin Juvenile Detention Center does not hold property crime offenders,” Fletcher exclaimed in the post. “Back on the streets,” he said.

Police in Minneapolis responded Friday to two ice cream truck robberies at gunpoint in the span of about 30 minutes, according to dispatch audio. The first occurred about 7:45 p.m. near Powderhorn Park in south Minneapolis. The second occurred about 8:15 p.m. in Northeast Minneapolis near Lowry Avenue Northeast and Monroe Street Northeast. In both cases, the suspects were described as masked black males who fled in a vehicle. No public statement was released by police about the incidents.

Minneapolis police responded to a shooting just after midnight Saturday on the 2400 block of 17th Avenue South, according to dispatch audio. Further dispatch audio indicated that a 50-year-old male was transported to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the arm and shrapnel embedded in his torso. Further information about the victim’s condition was not immediately available, and no public statement was released by police about the shooting.

A vehicle in a St. Anthony neighborhood sustained bullet damage overnight Friday to Saturday, and police asked the public to check their surveillance cameras for possible suspect images. The damage was discovered on the 3500 block of Belden Drive, which is about a block away from St. Anthony City Hall and the police station. Witnesses or those with surveillance images are asked to contact Hennepin County Dispatch at 952-258-5321 or email FNCQpbaarpg@fniza.pbz.

A couple of chaotic scenes played out in downtown Minneapolis at bar close early Saturday morning, according to dispatch audio. The first occurred about 2:30 a.m. when police aired that shots had been fired near 1st Avenue North and North 5th Street. Police stated at the time that a black Charger and a blue Charger with large rims and dark tinted windows had been involved and fled the scene. No injuries were reported at the time, but police aired that “a lot of rounds [had been] fired.” Dispatch audio indicated that other officers had pulled over a blue Charger with bullet damage near Washington Avenue and Portland Avenue, but information about any arrested parties was not immediately available.

A short time later, about 2:44 a.m., officers near the Gay 90s bar reported shots had been fired and people were running away. Officers indicated that they recovered a gun at the scene after another party was wrestling with the suspect. Police described both parties as suspects at the time. One was described as a white male in a lime green baseball cap, the other was described as a black male in camo shorts and a green shirt. Police aired that both suspects had separately been taken into custody. Information about arrested parties was not immediately available, and no public statement was issued by police about either downtown incident.

Minneapolis tallied the city’s 46th and 47th homicides over the weekend. In the first, police responded Saturday about 3:20 a.m. to a report of a domestic dispute near 1st Avenue South and E 17th Street. Upon arrival, police found a male in his 30s who had been struck by a vehicle. MPD later updated that the male had died as a result of his injuries and a female had been taken into custody at the scene. The two had a former dating relationship, police said. Booking records show a 34-year-old female is in custody on probable cause murder. She had not been formally charged as of 2 p.m. Monday.

The second homicide occurred Sunday about 1:45 a.m. near the Little Earth housing complex on the 2500 block of Cedar Avenue South. Police in the area initially reported hearing about ten shots fired and then found the victim on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head. Police later released a statement saying the male in his 20s died as a result of his injuries. Police said they believed the suspect and victim were known to each other. No suspect information was released by police.

Brooklyn Park police reported that they responded to a stabbing Saturday morning just after 11:30 a.m. on the 5800 block of 73rd Avenue North. Arriving officers located an adult male victim with a non-life-threatening stab wound to the leg who was transported to the hospital. An adult female was arrested without incident, and police said the victim and suspect are known to each other. Arrested party information was not immediately available.

Blaine police responded Saturday about 8 p.m. on a report of a strong-arm carjacking at Blaine High School, according to dispatch audio. Police arriving in the area spotted the stolen vehicle and a pursuit ensued. The suspect was apprehended after driving into a ditch in a dead-end street in a neighborhood near 122nd Avenue Northeast and Terrace Court. Anoka County Jail records show that Jeffrey Allen Tornio, Jr, 27, of St. Cloud was booked into custody on probable cause charges of robbery, receiving stolen property, auto theft and fleeing police. As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, formal charges had not been filed.

Court records show Tornio has multiple prior felony convictions and has an open Hennepin County case on felon in possession of a firearm. Tornio was recently conditionally released from custody with no bail required in that case by Judge Jay Quam. Tornio also has an open felony case in Ramsey County in which he’s charged with auto theft.

Jeffrey Allen Tornio, Jr./Anoka County Jail

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) released statistics over the weekend recapping their recent effort to combat violent crime in Minneapolis and surrounding areas. They stated that since April, the BCA has opened 93 cases, made 171 arrests and seized 109 firearms in Minneapolis.

Additionally, the BCA said it would be continuing to assist in local crime fighting efforts along with the Minnesota State Patrol. The enforcement campaign was announced earlier this spring, and dedicated resources are assigned until September 2022. BCA resources include 12 state investigators and one criminal analyst to conduct homicide and gun crime investigations in Minneapolis and surrounding communities. Additional focused enforcement details are scheduled for July and August.

The Minnesota State Patrol put up numbers over the weekend detailing results of their “street racing patrols.” Troopers made 279 traffic stops on Friday night including 17 arrests. On Saturday night, MSP conducted 250 traffic stops in Minneapolis in which fifty-two drivers were cited for driving without a valid license. Twenty arrests were made including 11 for driving while impaired. They also stated that multiple pursuits ended in apprehensions. In one case, State Patrol flight located a driver that fled on foot after a traffic pursuit. Flight observed the driver throw a firearm which was recovered by law enforcement after the driver was apprehended.

Bloomington police took a male into custody early Sunday morning following an hour-long perimeter search for the suspect who fled on foot from a traffic stop in the area of 82nd Street and James Avenue South, according to dispatch audio. The search began before 1 a.m., and the suspect was finally taken into custody just before 2 a.m. near 82nd and Knox Avenue with the assistance of a K9 team member. Arrested party information wasn’t immediately available, and no public statement was released by police about the incident.

Minneapolis police responded Sunday about 3:45 a.m. to a report of a shooting on the 1900 block of Columbus Avenue. Dispatch audio indicated that a victim was transported to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the knee. No public statement was released by police about the incident.

One person was killed and two others were injured in an Apple Valley shooting Sunday evening. According to a statement initially released by the Apple Valley Police Department, officers responded about 6:23 p.m. to a report of multiple people with weapons shooting at each other on the 900 block of Oriole Drive. Upon arrival, officers located two victims outside a residence. One victim was deceased, and one victim was transported to the hospital with gunshot wounds. Witnesses told police that a vehicle fled the scene prior to officers’ arrival. AVPD released an updated statement on Monday which said a 49-year-old female suffered gunshot wounds and was deceased on the scene. A handgun was located in her hand.

The female’s adult son, a 25-year-old male, suffered gunshot wounds and was treated and released from the hospital. He admitted to participating in the shooting and is currently in custody. Police said it is believed that the vehicle, which fled the scene, drove to Ridges Hospital in Burnsville. The driver of that vehicle, a 39-year-old male, entered the hospital with gunshot wounds and is in serious condition. This male is the deceased female’s ex-boyfriend. The male’s vehicle is being processed for evidence.

There is no indication that others were involved in this incident. The Apple Valley Police Department is continuing to investigate with the assistance of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Two people were shot in Minneapolis late Sunday night. Just after 11 p.m., an officer aired that they were out with a gunshot victim on the 3000 block of 15th Avenue South, a male with multiple gunshot wounds. About the same time, another officer stated they were out with a gunshot victim nearby in the drive-thru at Abbott Hospital, a female with a gunshot wound to the head. The dispatcher stated that Shotspotter had detected five rounds fired, but police found between 15-20 spent shell casings at the scene on 15th Avenue. Further audio indicated that a 57-year-old male was transported to the hospital with gunshot wounds to the back and groin. The female victim was reported to be conscious and breathing at the time. Further information about the victims’ injuries was not immediately available, and no public statement was released by police about the incident.

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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.