Suspect in N. Minneapolis shooting a person of interest in two other shootings

December 11, 2018

A man charged with attempted murder for shooting a man who police say robbed him last fall is being looked at as a suspect in two other recent shootings, including an October homicide in north Minneapolis Shingle Creek neighborhood, according to recent court filings.

Detectives say that surveillance video showed Karul Brown firing shots at a van near the McDonalds restaurant at 916 W. Broadway Avenue on Oct. 27, hitting one man in the ear, the filings show. Police later learned that the shooting was in response to an earlier incident in which the vans occupants had jumped and robbed Brown, 38.

Spent shell casings recovered from the scene matched those found at an Oct. 22 shooting in Brooklyn Center and the slaying of a Louisiana man on the morning of Oct. 28, police say.

But while detectives believe that they have enough evidence to tie the three shootings together, they cant yet prove who pulled the trigger in each case.

On Oct. 28, police say that officers found Darren P. Watkins, 54, of LaPlace, La., with multiple gunshot wounds in an alley behind the 5200 block of James Avenue. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses reported seeing a suspect in a mustard yellow T-shirt getting into a small black vehicle; detectives later reviewed surveillance footage showing a black mid-to-late 2000s model Volkswagen Passat heading south down the alley shortly after shots were heard, before turning right onto N. 52nd Avenue, police said.

They said that the car, which was missing pieces of silver trim, matched the description of a vehicle into which Brown was seeing jumping after the shooting at the McDonalds. It also resembled the 2007 Volkswagen Passat that Brown and 27-year-old Tyree Johnson were arrested in on Halloween, police said.

Detectives later obtained a search warrant for two cellphones found in the car at the time of their arrest.

Court records show that Brown is being held in the Hennepin County jail on six counts of attempted first-degree murder and a single count of illegal firearms possession, with an expected next court date of Jan. 10. Johnson, who police say furnished Brown with the gun used in the Broadway shooting and served as his getaway driver, faces similar charges. Johnsons next court date is scheduled for Friday.

Investigators tested three spent 9mm casings recovered from the homicide scene and found they were fired from the same gun that was used in the other two shootings, police said.

Johnson and Brown denied being involved in Watkins slaying, telling police that they were at home at the time of the shooting. Attempts to reach the court-appointed attorneys representing the two men were unsuccessful on Monday.

On Oct. 27, about 19 hours before the homicide, police said that Brown was attacked by three men outside of the McDonalds near the Hawthorne Crossings strip mall, who punched, kicked and stomped him in the head and body, in a brutal assault that was captured on a nearby security camera. Sometime later, gunfire erupted in the same area.

A witness later identified Brown, who has a prosthetic leg and goes by the street name Legs, as the shooter, court filings show.

In an interview with police, Brown admitted to firing his gun at a vanful of men who had jumped him, according to the filings.

Libor Jany 612-673-4064 Twitter:@StribJany