The first shooting happened Monday afternoon on the city’s north end, near the intersection of Rice Street and Winnipeg Avenue.
An 18-year-old man, identified as Raumez Ross of Apple Valley, was walking on the sidewalk when he was struck by gunfire. Responding officers found him with grave wounds in a nearby grocery store, where he died shortly after.
The second homicide happened around 10 p.m. in the Payne Phalen neighborhood, at the scene of a four-car crash.
The good Samaritan, identified as 31-year-old Javier Sanmiguel of Saint Paul, died. Police say the suspect is in custody. A GoFundMe has been set up for the victim’s family.
Around midnight, two men showed up at Regions Hospital with gunshot wounds. Their car had several bullet holes.
3 fatally shot during deadly 8-hour period in St. Paul
One of the victims had non-life-threatening injuries. The other, identified as Nikey L. Taylor Jr, 27, was pronounced dead on arrival.
Three fatal shootings in St. Paul in 8 hours
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell wrote on Facebook that he’s called a meeting with his executive team and will announce his plan to find those responsible for the violence on Tuesday.
“Last night was one of the most violent nights I have witnessed in my career,” Axtell wrote. “Three lives were lost, three families will never be the same and our community is waking to uncertainty and fear. Please know that the women and men of the [St. Paul Police Department] are working tirelessly to apprehend anyone involved in this violence. Please pray for the victims, our community and our staff who are exhausted from working extraodinary (sic) hours.”
Saint Paul police investigating third homicide in span of nine hours
The nine-hour stretch between Monday afternoon and early Tuesday morning, which unfolded across three different neighborhoods, was unprecedented in Axtell’s 30-year career with the department, he said at a news conference with Mayor Melvin Carter and community leaders Tuesday afternoon.
Good Samaritan Shot to Death Monday Night
“I simply can’t remember a time where our city and our police officers have faced three separate homicides in such a short period of time,” Axtell said. “It was shocking, it was outrageous and it was an anomaly.”
Both Axtell and Carter emphasized that the string of homicides was unusual for the city. Still, shootings are up in St. Paul, and activists and community members on Tuesday renewed calls for a strong community response and an end to the violence.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports an 18-year-old was fatally shot about 4:30 p.m. Monday on the city’s North End. And, about 12:15 a.m. Tuesday a 27-year-old man was shot and later died at Regions Hospital. Linders says the man was in a vehicle with another person when someone in another vehicle began firing at them. Police are working to determine a motive.
“We cannot afford to lose another life,” said Dora Jones-Robinson, Mentoring Young Adults executive director and founder of the Guns Down St. Paul movement, at a news conference Tuesday morning. “We cannot afford to bury another baby.”
The three deaths raised St. Paul’s homicide total for 2019 to 19. Of those, 17 were shot, according to police.
In addition to adding extra patrols to each district, the police department is establishing a task force to help with homicide and gang investigations and plans to employ new technology to better analyze surveillance video related to gun crimes, Axtell said.
The 31-year-old man was shot in the head in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood about 10 p.m. Monday. A 27-year-old driver was detained.
Shortly before Tuesday’s news conference, Axtell said he learned that the Department of Justice is awarding the department a $750,000 grant to expand the use of the Crime Gun Intelligence Center in partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives St. Paul Field Division.
“This is going to help us tremendously and make sure all our agencies throughout the metro and our federal partners are coordinating our efforts and tracking the guns back to people who are possessing them illegally,” Axtell said.
Police arrested 27-year-old Lionel Keejuan Eaton at scene of the Payne-Phalen incident, according to police. He faces murder charges.
The homicide occurred after a multivehicle crash around 10 p.m. at the intersection of Case Avenue and Edgerton Street. Witnesses told police that a man driving south on Edgerton Street rear-ended a vehicle driven by a woman. The impact propelled the woman’s car into an unoccupied parked car.
She said she went outside and asked her husband to come and help. A young woman got out of one of the cars and said a man had just hit her with his car, but the neighbors couldn’t see anyone in the car that caused the accident, Thompson said. Another witness told police she saw the driver in the trunk, curled up in the fetal position and covering his face, according to a charging document.
A couple of men including San Miguel approached the car and one started to open the trunk, Thompson said, and the man started shooting, hitting San Miguel in the head. He continued shooting, Thompson said, preventing her husband from helping San Miguel as he lay in the street.
Police found a black Smith & Wesson handgun and a magazine inside Eaton’s car, according to the charging document. He told police that he does not own a gun, and that someone gave him the handgun earlier that night. He said while driving that night, he was “rammed” by another car, hit his head and then thought he heard gunshots.
Eaton told police he was “panicked and scared for his life, and so he shot from inside the vehicle out” without aiming at anything in particular, according to the charging document.
Eaton’s mother, identified in the document only as NLM, arrived at the scene after the shooting and told officers she was concerned that her son was having a mental health crisis and had been trying to find him in order to have him evaluated at a hospital. According to the document, she said she believed Eaton had a firearm and a permit to carry.
Thompson said San Miguel and his wife have four children under age 7, and that he had recently gotten his dream job as a freelance interpreter.
This is the second fatal shooting in the neighborhood since Thompson and her husband moved into their house four years ago, she said.
“Something has got to turn around. And the mayor cannot cut the police force right now in St. Paul,” Thompson said. “We need more police, not less, with crimes like this committed. It’s not going to stop.”
Carter said he plans to continue to invest in the police department along with strategies intended to prevent crime before it happens. He urged anyone with information about the three shootings “to come forward and speak up.”
The mayor also said that city officials “stand more resolved than ever to continue the discussion at the State Capitol about why it seems so easy for the wrong people to get their hands on a gun.”
Police charged two 15-year-old males Tuesday in connection with Ross’ killing on the North End; one faces a murder charge, the other a charge for aiding and abetting the murder, officials said.
Police have not announced any charges in the third shooting, which happened shortly after midnight near University Avenue and Marion Street. Police said the occupants of one vehicle shot at another vehicle and then took off. The men inside the vehicle that was shot multiple times made their way to Regions Hospital where one of the men, Taylor, died, police said.
Steve Zeece, who owns Roseville-based L-Z Truck Equipment Inc. where Taylor had worked there for three years, described him as “wonderful to be around.” He said Taylor’s father came into the shop Tuesday morning and said Taylor had been at a birthday party before the shooting.
St. Paul reporter Emma Nelson joined the Star Tribune in 2014, and has covered local government beats from Scott and Dakota counties to Minneapolis City Hall. She has also been part of reporting teams that covered the aftermath of the Norwood Teague sexual harassment scandal and the death of Prince.
James Walsh is a reporter covering St. Paul and its neighborhoods. He has had myriad assignments in nearly 30 years at the Star Tribune, including federal courts and St. Paul schools.