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Former Mpls School Staffer Sentenced to 13 Years for 2018 Sexual Assault

posted Aug 9, 2019, 1:30 PM by Ronnie V

(Melvin Epps, Source: MN Dept. of Corrections) 

By MN Crime Watch, June 30, 2019

A former Minneapolis Public Schools employee was sentenced to 156 months in prison after being found guilty by a jury in June for a 2018 sexual assault that took place following a Super Bowl party.

Melvin Epps, who held consecutive positions in Minneapolis Public Schools as a special education assistant at Northeast Middle School and as a behavior specialist at Patrick Henry High School between August 2014 and March 2017, raped a woman after offering her a ride following the Maxim Super Bowl party in downtown Minneapolis, according to a report in June by Alpha News.

Prosecutors originally sought the maximum allowable prison sentence of 187 months, but Epps was sentenced to 156 months by Hennepin County Judge Philip Carruthers on July 12. Under Minnesota sentencing guidelines offenders are only required to serve two-thirds of their sentence locked up and the remainder on supervised release. With credit for time already served Epps is scheduled for anticipated release in December 2027, about eight and a half years.

Epps is also facing three felony counts of first-, third- and fourth-degree sexual conduct in another pending sexual assault case in Anoka County which is scheduled for a jury trial in October. Epps could face up to another 30 years if convicted in that case. 

(continue reading below image)

Anoka County case details, Source:


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Man Convicted of Manslaughter in Green Line Assault of Senior Citizen Now Facing Several Gun Charges

posted Jun 30, 2019, 5:19 PM by Crime Watch

A 23-year-old man with a history of receiving plea bargains on convictions for violent crimes committed at transit stations, including manslaughter, is now facing new weapons charges in two Twin Cities counties.

Cavis Deandre Adams should have been incarcerated at the time of the September 2016 assault at the Robert Street Green Line transit station that resulted in the death of 68-year-old Gebremedhin Tela. Just two months prior, Adams had been convicted of felony robbery in another violent assault on a man at the Rice Street Green Line transit station in March 2016. However, in the Rice Street case he was given a plea bargain that dismissed a first-degree aggravated robbery charge and he pleaded guilty to a lower charge of simple robbery.

Instead of being sentenced to four years as called for on the dismissed charge, Adams was given a stay of imposition on the lowered felony charge and sentenced to just 60 days in local jail leaving him released just days prior to the deadly September assault on Tela.  

After stealing Tela’s cellphone at the Robert Street Green Line light rail transit station and trying to flee, Adams, then 21, punched the elder man in the face causing him to hit his head on a pole and fall unconscious. Tela died four days later from a blood clot and the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide. Adams was eventually charged with second-degree unintentional murder as well as one count of aggravated robbery in Tela’s death, according to a report.

Adams’ probation on the prior Rice Street robbery conviction was revoked shortly after the attack on Tela and he remained incarcerated throughout the proceedings in Tela’s death.

In yet another plea bargain, Adams agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter in April 2018 for Tela’s death. The plea bargain dismissed two murder charges and an aggravated robbery charge. Adams was sentenced essentially to time already served on the prior probation violation while awaiting disposition in the case involving Tela. He was released from custody shortly thereafter and placed on supervised release.  

According to the new charging documents filed in both Anoka County and Hennepin County, Adams is now facing four felony weapons related charges in two separate incidents within two days of each other in early May.

According to the Anoka County complaint, Columbia Heights officers were dispatched on May 7 to a report of a motor vehicle crash on the 3700 block of Central Avenue Northeast.  Responding officers were informed that prior to their arrival two of the males involved in the accident had run from the scene towards a drug store nearby and may have placed items by the dumpster before returning to their vehicle.  Witnesses described seeing one of the males pull a handgun from inside his waistband and hid it near the dumpster.

When officers arrived on scene the two males were by their vehicle. One male was identified as Adams.  Officers subsequently searched the area by the dumpsters and located brass knuckles and a loaded handgun with the serial number removed.  Officers were able to watch video surveillance from the drug store and were able to identify that Adams had placed both items in the same location that officers found them. Adams had left the scene before officers found the weapons. Charges were filed and a warrant was issued for Adams’ arrest two days later.

According to the Hennepin County complaint, on the evening of May 9, Metro Transit officers were dispatched to the Government Center Plaza light rail station in downtown Minneapolis, and upon arrival observed a fight underway between three men. Officers broke up the fight and identified the two primary aggressors, one of them was later identified Adams.

While officers attempted to calm the scene and detain both aggressors, a female reported to police that the same men had threatened her earlier in the day with a small silver gun while she was riding the light rail. She told police they had a gun with them in the duffel bag being carried by Adams.

Police searched Adams and the other male and did not find anything on their person. Police then searched the duffel bag in Adams’ possession, and located a small silver gun and 34 rounds of live ammunition separate from the gun.

Adams has been charged in Anoka County with one felony count of possession of firearm or ammunition by an ineligible person, and one felony count of possession of a firearm with altered/removed serial number.

In Hennepin County Adams has been charged with two felony counts of possession of firearm or ammunition by an ineligible person.

Adams’ prior convictions for manslaughter and robbery make him ineligible to possess a firearm or ammunition under Minnesota statute.

Adams is currently in custody in Hennepin County Jail on $100,000 bail and his next court appearance is scheduled for June 13 in that county. Adams still has an active arrest warrant on the Anoka County charges and no court date has been set yet for those charges.


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Police Advise of Burglaries in the Mpls Fulton Neighborhood

posted Jun 6, 2019, 12:01 PM by Crime Watch   [ updated Jun 7, 2019, 7:12 AM ]

June 6, 2019

Burglaries in the Fulton Neighborhood

June 4th, 2019, between the hours of 9 pm and 6 am, there were eight reported burglaries to garages, and one to a home in a four-block radius (click on ALL ATTACHMENTS below). The suspects entered through unlocked or unsecured service doors in three cases, and the others were forced open. Entry to the home was made through an open rear door. Suspects stole tools, bikes and other miscellaneous items.

50XX York Ave S.: (House- rear door unlocked/open) Home owner awoke to a loud crash in his kitchen. Suspect fled when homeowner yelled out. Loss: Kitchen drawer with wallet and Id.

48XX Vincent Ave S.: Service door forced in. No loss.

50XX Washburn Ave S.: Unlocked service door. Loss: Weed cutter and tools.

49XX Xerxes Ave S.: Service door forced in. No loss.

48XX Zenith Ave S.: Service door forced in. No loss.

50XX Xerxes Ave S.: Unlocked service door. No loss.

50XX Xerxes Ave S.: Service door forced in. No loss.

50XX Xerxes Ave S.: Attempted only. Suspect unable to get in door. No loss.

52XX Xerxes Ave S.: Unlocked service door. Loss: 2 Bikes.

What you can do:

Always keep your home and garage secured and locked. Also, always lock your vehicle doors inside your garage and take all valuables out of the vehicle. (including small change, insurance and registration information) 

Never leave your garage door opener in your car outside of your garage unlocked. 

Consider in investing in Wi-Fi Security Cameras. This aids in helping investigators identify potential suspects.

Motion lights on garage doors and homes are also a good deterrent for burglars.       

Call 911 to report suspicious activity. This includes strangers walking down your alley and looking in garages, loitering, or vehicles circling the block with occupants you don’t recognize.

Burglars commonly knock on doors to see if anyone is home. Please call 911 to report any suspicious persons who knock on your door or ring your doorbell. For example, someone giving you a name of a person they are looking for, who doesn’t live there!

If you are burglarized, do not contaminate the crime scene. Do not enter your home until police have cleared it of possible suspects. Do not touch any suspected entry points or items that may have been moved or touched by the burglar. Do not “clean up” until after police have investigated.

There is no suspect information at this time, if you have any information regarding these incidents please contact the 5th pct. Property Crimes Unit at (612) 673-5715.

For a free home security survey, please call the 5th Precinct at (612) 673-5407 and ask to speak to your Crime Prevention specialist.


For questions contact:

Jennifer Waisanen, Crime Prevention Specialist
Minneapolis Police Department, 5th Precinct
(612) 673-5407

Minneapolis Man Charged with Armed Robbery in St. Cloud

posted Jun 5, 2019, 6:59 PM by Crime Watch

Abdimalik Hassan Abi (Photo: Stearns County Jail)

By MN Crime, May 30, 2019

St. Cloud media is reporting that a Minneapolis man has been charged in Stearns County with aggravated robbery and weapons violations after another man said he was robbed of his cellphone on May 21 by the suspect.

The report alleges that Abdimalik Hassan Abi, 22, blocked the victim’s car into a space at a business parking lot on the 800 block of University Drive about 5 p.m., and that Abi then approached the driver’s side window displaying brass knuckles and a gun in his waistband while demanding the victim’s cellphone and code to unlock it.

Police spotted the suspect’s car the next day and made a traffic stop. Inside the vehicle they found the victim’s cell phone, brass knuckles and 9mm ammunition according to the report.

Abi has two prior felony convictions in Hennepin County including terroristic threats and 5th degree narcotics. Both of those felony convictions make Abi ineligible to possess firearms or ammunition under Minnesota statute. Abi received a stay of imposition on both of those 2017 felony convictions, meaning the felony sentence was not imposed and he was sentenced to a short stint in local jail for the terroristic threats conviction, and was given credit for time already served on the narcotics conviction and placed on probation for three years in both cases. Abi also has a history of other theft convictions in Hennepin County.

Abi has been charged in Stearns County with four felony counts related to the May 21 incident including one count each of first- and second-degree aggravated robbery, and two counts of prohibited person in possession of a firearm or ammunition.

Public records indicate that Abi has recent address history in the Whittier area neighborhood of south Minneapolis. Abi is currently in custody in Stearns County Jail on $200,000 bail. His next court appearance in Stearns County is June 3.

Follow the case #73-CR-19-4123

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Native Mob Gang Member Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison

posted Jun 5, 2019, 6:50 PM by Crime Watch   [ updated Jun 5, 2019, 6:51 PM ]

Dakota James Lafave (Photo: Sherburne County Jail)

By MN Crime, May 28, 2019

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced sentencing in federal court last week for Dakota James Lafave to 366 months in prison for assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, witness retaliation, and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

The case stemmed from a 2017 incident in which Lafave shot a former Native Mob gang member in the back in retaliation for testifying against fellow gang members in a federal racketeering conspiracy trial in 2013. Lafave had also hoped that the unprovoked attack would elevate his position in the Native Mob gang, according to the release.

Lafave, aka “Biggs,” 30, who authorities say has been a Native Mob gang member since 2006, was originally indicted in August 2018 on six counts including attempted murder in aid of racketeering, and felon in possession of ammunition – armed career criminal. Lafave agreed to plead guilty to the three counts in January avoiding a jury trial.

The federal racketeering case was the result of an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Minneapolis Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Mille Lacs Tribal Police Department, and the Minnesota Department of Corrections, according to the press release.

Lafave is also scheduled for sentencing in a separate case in Hennepin County court on Tuesday after pleading guilty in April to 2nd degree murder – with intent – not premeditated in the shooting death of Chanhassen teen Alexander Lagarde in March 2018 at Minneapolis’ Little Earth housing complex. According to the criminal complaint in that case, Lafave, and co-defendant Juan Vasquez, Jr., approached a group of young people at the housing complex, and when Lagarde tried to enter a nearby residence Vasquez fired multiple shots killing Lagarde and injuring another nearby teenager. Lafave originally faced seven felony counts in the case, six of which will likely be dismissed at sentencing.

Vasquez, who was also facing seven felony charges in the case, was sentenced in April to 39 years in prison after pleading guilty to one charge of 2nd degree intentional murder, the other six charges were dismissed.

Lafave has at least five prior felony convictions in Minnesota including three convictions for 2nd degree assault with a dangerous weapon, 1st degree aggravated robbery, and prohibited person in possession of a firearm.      

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Man Accused of Threatening to Kill Staff at St. Cloud Detox Faces New Charges

posted Jun 3, 2019, 7:07 AM by Crime Watch   [ updated Jun 4, 2019, 10:42 AM ]

Abdihakim Mohamed Areis (Photo: Stearns County Jail)

By MN Crime, May 15, 2019

An Eden Prairie man charged with felony terroristic threats in January for allegedly threatening to kill staff at a Stearns County detox facility is facing new charges in Hennepin County.

Abdihakim Mohamed Areis, 31, was arrested and subsequently charged in January after staff at St. Cloud Detox Center called police to report a disorderly intoxicated male who was throwing furniture and destroying property in the lobby and threatening to kill staff. Areis was offered conditional release from custody with no bail required. The case is scheduled for a June 25 jury trial in Stearns County.

On Wednesday Areis was scheduled to appear in Hennepin County District Court for hearings on five other pending cases ranging from arraignments to a probation violation. The cases include two new separate theft cases and a new disorderly conduct case all charged in April or May 2019, a pending theft case charged in December 2018, and a probation violation from a prior conviction in September 2018 on disorderly conduct.

Areis has a lengthy history of arrests and over four dozen criminal cases in Minnesota dating back to 2006 at the age of 18. The cases include convictions for felony 1st degree aggravated robbery in 2009, felony burglary of an Eden Prairie church in 2011, and another felony burglary conviction in 2015. Areis was sentenced to 24 months on the 2009 felony 1st degree aggravated robbery conviction but received stayed sentences on the two subsequent felony burglary convictions.

Areis’ numerous other cases peppered amid the felony convictions include gross misdemeanor convictions for assaulting a peace officer, domestic assault, 3rd degree DWI and fleeing police. Areis received reduced sentences for all four gross misdemeanor convictions. Other cases involve misdemeanor convictions for several thefts, multiple trespassing, tamper with a motor vehicle, assault and several disorderly conduct. Areis received stayed or reduced sentences or was released with credit for time already served on most of the misdemeanor convictions.

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Former Gang Member, Two Others Charged in Drive-By Shooting of Two Women

posted Jun 2, 2019, 9:01 PM by Crime Watch

Antonio Cortez Lewis (Photo: Hennepin County Sheriff)

By MN Crime, May 23, 2019

A barrage of gunfire rang out in the early Sunday morning hours of March 24, followed by a ShotSpotter alert to police indicating twenty-seven rounds had been fired nearby. Police would shortly discover a residence pierced by gunfire and two women who had been shot inside the upper unit of the duplex where four children were also residing at the time of the shooting.

The information is detailed in a new criminal complaint naming Antonio Cortez Lewis, 27, of Minneapolis, as one of three defendants in the drive-by shooting case.

Details from the criminal complaint state that officers were sitting in their vehicles in the parking lot of Minneapolis’ 4th Precinct police station on Plymouth Avenue North when they heard a large amount of gunfire coming from south of the precinct. Other officers in the area aired over the radio that they heard the same thing. As the officers responded to the sound of shots, a ShotSpotter alert indicated shots in the area of the 700 block of Penn Avenue North.

Officers responding to the ShotSpotter alert arrived on a shooting scene at the Penn Avenue address and found two women on the floor inside the residence with gunshot wounds. One was shot in the ankle/calf area, the other woman received injuries to her hand and another grazing wound to her back. Witnesses at the scene and others subsequently interviewed told police that prior to the shooting there had been an altercation between two groups of females. One of the witnesses said that a male identified as Lewis had been present with another male outside the residence on Penn Avenue at the time of the shooting, according to the complaint.

Other officers arriving in the area saw a white sedan leaving the area of the shots. The vehicle was occupied by three black males and its headlights were off. Upon observing the sedan, officers heard the radio dispatch confirming that there were shooting victims at the Penn Avenue address. Officers shined a spotlight on the vehicle while giving commands to the occupants to put their hands up. The males ignored the commands and the vehicle took off from the scene still with no headlights, the complaint says.

When officers caught up to the vehicle it was stopped in the middle of the street on the 1700 block of Morgan Avenue North with doors open and they saw one male fleeing on foot. Police found a .45 caliber handgun in the vehicle and apprehended the fleeing male a short distance away near North Commons Park. The suspect apprehended was identified as co-defendant in the case, Jamar Rashad Mclane, 32, of Brooklyn Park. The others seen fleeing were not immediately apprehended according to the complaint. Lewis was eventually apprehended and booked into Hennepin County Jail on May 17.

Lewis, formerly of the north Minneapolis Stick Up Boys Gang, has a criminal history stretching back to at least 2009 at the age of 17 when he received a felony conviction for simple robbery for the benefit of a gang. Lewis received a plea bargain in that case dismissing two other felony charges of riot and assault for the benefit of a gang in exchange for the guilty plea and a 40-month prison sentence. The case stemmed from a gang-related riot, assault and robbery at the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center in January of that year when several teens assaulted and robbed a teacher at the facility and assaulted a 15-year-old who was purportedly from another gang.

The 2009 conviction and Lewis’ two other felony convictions involving illegal possession of a firearm make him ineligible to possess a firearm. Officers conducting a search of the vehicle used in the drive-by shooting located a cell phone which was later determined to belong to Lewis. The phone contained at least two videos created in the hours and days just prior to the drive-by shooting which clearly showed Lewis handling a black handgun in both videos, according to the complaint.

Lewis has been charged with two felony counts of dangerous weapons – drive-by shooting and prohibited person in possession of ammo/firearm. Mclane, who has a 2006 conviction for 2nd degree attempted murder, has been charged with two felony counts of dangerous weapons – drive-by shooting – aid/abet and fleeing police in a motor vehicle. A third defendant, Ciara Catrice Arnez Champion, 20, of Minneapolis, has been charged with felony drive-by shooting - aid/abet in the case and was booked into Hennepin County jail on April 2. Her exact role in the incident is not made clear in the Lewis criminal complaint.

The two female shooting victims received non-life-threatening injuries. Lewis and Mclane are currently in custody in Hennepin County Jail. Lewis’ next court appearance is scheduled for June 20, Mclane’s next appearance is scheduled for May 28. Champion was released from jail on conditions with no bail required. Her next court appearance is scheduled for June 7.

There is also some speculation that the March 24 drive-by shooting may have spurred another drive-by shooting just a week later in which one man was killed and another critically injured on North 7th Street heading toward downtown Minneapolis. The victims in that shooting had been Facebook livestreaming when the shooting began.

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Nurse Assaulted at Unity Hospital in Fridley, Patient Charged

posted Jun 1, 2019, 7:54 PM by Crime Watch   [ updated Jun 1, 2019, 7:57 PM ]

By MN Crime, June 1, 2019

A 31-year-old man has been charged for an April assault on a nurse at Unity Hospital in Fridley.

Charging documents say that on April 18, 2019, Fridley Police were called to the locked psychiatric ward at Unity Hospital regarding an assaultive patient, identified as Dek Abdi Ali. The responding officer spoke with a nurse on duty and learned that she went to Ali’s room to take away a sharp object he had. Ali refused to remove his arm from behind his back and began walking toward the nurse.

Per hospital policy, the nurse ran to the nurse’s station, but before she was able to enter the locked secure zone, Ali caught up to her and hit her with an open hand to the left side of her temple, forehead area, leaving redness and a scratch. The nurse reported being stunned by the slap and had ringing in her ears, the complaint said.

Ali, of Faribault, has been charged with one count of felony fourth-degree assault of a physician, nurse or health care provider, and one count of misdemeanor fifth-degree assault. Under Minnesota law fourth-degree assault is charged when a person assaults an individual within certain classifications such as peace officers, correctional workers, paramedics or health care providers. If convicted under that charge, Ali could face up to two years in prison. Ali is scheduled to make a first court appearance on June 27.

Follow the case # 02-CR-19-3504.             


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Suburban Rich Kid Wants to be a Gangster… In the Suburbs, Allegedly

posted Jun 1, 2019, 2:18 PM by Crime Watch   [ updated Jun 4, 2019, 10:42 AM ]

Ryan Gorman Opitz (Photo: Anoka County Jail)

By MN Crime, June 1, 2019

It appears Ryan Opitz has just had enough of spending his days skateboarding. And, apparently, he didn’t want a job at the family’s legacy business the Opitz Outlets.

He wants to be a gangster instead. In the suburbs. Allegedly.

According to a new criminal complaint filed in Anoka County, on Saturday, May 25, about 1:30 p.m., a detective from the Coon Rapids police department was called to the InTown Suites – an extended stay hotel – at 420 Coon Rapids Boulevard Northwest in the city of Coon Rapids on report of an assault.

A 17-year-old juvenile victim admitted to Detective Cameron Gustafson that he was buying $50 worth of marijuana from someone through Snapchat, a messaging app popular with teens and young adults. The alleged seller was named “Levi,” according to the victim, and he arrived in a silver Honda. The juvenile victim got into the car that was already occupied by approximately four other men and a white male sitting in the front seat. The male in the front seat then turned around and pointed a gun at the victim and told him to empty his pockets. The man would later be identified as Ryan Gorman Opitz, 18, according to the complaint.

The complaint further states that the victim proceeded to hand over his new iPhone X, but despite this, the men beat the victim with punches and kicks, ultimately breaking his jaw, according to a CT scan that was later administered. The victim identified one of the men as a person with whom he used to attend school. Police went to the home of the identified suspect and spoke with him, and he corroborated the account given by the victim.

In addition to the victim, Detective Gustafson spoke with another man from the Honda and to Opitz. Opitz admitted to the theft and the beating, but said he just showed the victim the gun, he didn’t point it, the complaint states. A consent search revealed a 9MM Sig Sauer in Opitz’s father’s nightstand. The gun was unloaded, with no round in the chamber.

Upon booking in Anoka County Jail on May 26, Opitz listed as his address a residence on the 7000 block of Cheyenne Trail in Chanhassen, Minnesota. Public records show the address is owned by a Scott W. Opitz. A social media search revealed that Scott Opitz is employed at the Opitz Outlet business. A media report lists Scott as son of outlet store mogul Lyn Opitz.

Opitz is facing one felony charge each of first-degree aggravated robbery and third-degree assault – substantial bodily harm in the case and made a first court appearance on May 29. Bail was listed at $100,000 without conditions or $25,000 with conditions. Court records show that a non-cash bond was posted and Opitz was released from custody on May 29. His next court appearance is scheduled for July 23 in Anoka County. 

Raul Gabriel Zetina, 18, of Cologne, Minnesota, has also been charged  in the case with one felony count each of first-degree aggravated robbery and third-degree assault. It's unknown whether any other suspects have been or will be charged.

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Tennessee Man Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison For String Of Robberies Of Twin Cities Auto Parts Stores

posted May 31, 2019, 7:01 AM by Crime Watch   [ updated May 31, 2019, 7:10 AM ]

Tony Lendell Reed

United States Attorney announced the sentencing of TONY LENDELL REED, 33, of Memphis, Tennessee, to 240 months in prison for robbery. On February 1, 2019, a federal jury convicted REED of six counts of interference with commerce by robbery, known as the Hobbs Act. The Hobbs Act prohibits actual or attempted robbery affecting interstate or foreign commerce “in any way or degree.” REED was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

United States Attorney Erica MacDonald stated, “Today’s sentence is an appropriate and just response to Mr. Reed’s callous criminal acts.”

Co-defendants ORLANDO LORENZO HARRIS, 35, DERF REGLAN RAHINE REED, 46, and TYRELL DANDRE CAMPBELL, 24, each entered guilty pleas in connection with the Hobbs Act robberies. HARRIS was sentenced on April 8, 2019, to 38 months in prison. DERF REED was sentenced on May 17, 2019, to 43 months in prison. CAMPBELL will be sentenced at a later date.

As proven at trial and in documents filed in court, between June 12 and November 29, 2017, on six separate occasions, REED and his co-defendants robbed auto parts stores located throughout the Twin Cities metro area. During each of the robberies, the defendants displayed what appeared to the victims to be a gun, threatened the victims, and demanded money. REED and his co-defendants also restrained the employees of the stores they robbed, using zip ties to bind the victims’ wrists and ankles.  

This case was the result of an investigation conducted by the Minneapolis Division, Chicago Division, and Memphis Division of the FBI, the Minneapolis Police Department, the Crystal Police Department, the Columbia Heights Police Department, the White Bear Lake Police Department, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, and the Holly Springs, Mississippi Police Department. This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, an initiative that brings together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.

Source: U.S. Attorneys » District of Minnesota

Photos: and

Orlando Harris
 Tyrell Campbell

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