Two charged with attempted murder of MPD forensic scientist

Investigators found that in February 2022, Amacher asked a friend of his to kill the victim for $50,000.

Timothy Amacher, 41, of St. Paul, and 24-year-old Colleen Larson, of St. Paul.(Hennepin County Jail)

A St. Paul man and woman have been charged in connection to the shooting of a Minneapolis Police Department forensic scientist.

According to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, 41-year-old Timothy Amacher and 24-year-old Colleen Larson both face one count of attempted first-degree murder of 33-year-old Nicki Lenway.

Court documents say Amacher and Lenway have a 5-year-old child together. Lenway has full custody of the child and Amacher is limited to visitation with supervised contact only.

According to the criminal complaint, the shooting happened on April 20 as Lenway was picking up her 5-year-old at a parenting center where Amacher was inside visiting with their son.

The document says just after 7:30 p.m., Lenway was outside her vehicle in the parking lot of the parenting center near the University of Minnesota when a suspect dressed entirely in black, with gloves and a medical mask, ran up from behind her and shot her twice. Lenway 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 Medial 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.” Lenway remains hospitalized but is expected to survive, the complaint states.

Staff who are familiar with Lenway and Amacher’s family history at the parental center told police the shooter might be Amacher’s girlfriend, Colleen Larson.

Surveillance footage from the parking lot showed Larson in a 2022 black Dodge Ram the night of the shooting. Police say Larson parked and waited for Lenway to exit her car. The document continues to say that before the shooting “Larson appeared to be scouting out the scene by slowly driving, and later walking, by the parking lot.”

Investigators spoke with Amacher who falsely denied having a 2022 black Dodge Ram, according to the complaint. When authorities asked Amacher if he had any idea who shot Lenway, Amacher claimed it must be related to Lenway’s forensic scientist job.

Larson also denied any involvement, stating she was at her home in St. Paul the night the shooting happened.

“Officers obtained a search warrant for the GPS data of the Dodge Ram registered to Amacher. Coupled with Amacher and Larson’s cell phone location data, officers were able to determine that Amacher switched vehicles with Larson at his place of business in White Bear Lake approximately three hours before the shooting,” the complaint states.

The document continues to say that Amacher drove to the parenting center, and Larson eventually went there as well.

On April 28, officers carried out a search warrant at Amacher’s St. Paul home and recovered multiple firearms, but not a .380. Court documents say investigators “found several .380 discharged cartridge cases. The Hennepin County Crime Lab later determined that these were fired from the same gun as the .380 discharged cartridge cases at the scene of the shooting.”

When officers asked Amacher what guns he owns, he did not mention a .380. However, later he admitted he used to have two .380 pistols.

The document says investigators learned that Lenway and Amacher’s relationship “involved domestic violence and extreme harassment and stalking behavior by Amacher over the last few years.”

Between 2019 and 2022, Amacher made multiple false reports to law enforcement that Lenway and her boyfriend abused the child. According to the complaint, a social worker told police the child said he was told by Amacher to lie about the abuse.

Investigators found that in February 2022, Amacher asked a friend of his to kill the victim for $50,000.

A GoFundMe organized on behalf of Lenway by MPD officer Nate Sundberg has raised more than $60,000.

Lenway has been a forensic scientist since 2013, according to her LinkedIn.

“Out of respect for the wishes of her loved ones, MPD won’t be commenting except to say that we’re holding Nicole and all of her loved ones in our hearts during this time,” a public information officer told Alpha News.


Pafoua Yang

Pafoua Yang is a reporter for Alpha News. She has worked as an on-air reporter for stations across the Twin Cities.