Only months before Lavauntai Broadbent, 16, was shot and killed on a St. Paul river bluff during a botched robbery, authorities say he was part of a violent mob of teens that led a rumble in a downtown St. Paul hotel.
Broadbent, of West St. Paul, died late Friday at Shadow Falls Park when one of the two adults he was threatening at gunpoint drew his own gun — for which he had a permit to carry — and fired, after he and three other juvenile males demanded “items.” Broadbent was wearing a mask and gloves, police said.
Police spokesman Steve Linders said Tuesday that authorities had no new information to disclose about the Broadbent case.
He did confirm that on Sunday night, a car drove off the street just before midnight into Shadow Falls Park, where some people had gathered for a vigil for Broadbent. Shots were fired, and the suspects fled on foot because their vehicle had struck a concrete planter. It’s unclear where the shots were fired from, Linders said, but no one was hit.
Four men and a juvenile male were later arrested in connection with the Sunday shooting, which remains under investigation.
Broadbent was a young man caught up in a culture of gang violence, according to court documents from an April 18 fight at the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown St. Paul. Details from the hotel fight, along with information released about Broadbent’s death and St. Paul’s youth gang culture, show that easy answers are difficult to come by and that many of St. Paul’s young men are swept up in a tit-for-tat cycle of retribution.
“At one point, [Broadbent] is observed kicking someone on the ground and chases another person off camera … [and] saw a guy who had jumped him about a month ago,” said the criminal complaint in the hotel fight.
Broadbent pleaded guilty in May to third-degree riot in a gang-related fight among 50 to 100 juveniles at the Embassy Suites in which members of the Ham Crazy and Everybody Killer gangs fought with members of the Shoota Boy Gang. He was sentenced in May to a year of supervised probation.
Although he denied being a gang member, Broadbent allegedly also had been documented in “numerous social media postings” flashing Shoota Boy Gang signs. He also appeared in a professionally produced gangsta rap video that went up on YouTube last month showing Broadbent participating in a robbery.
But to Jose Montez, who said he was Broadbent’s brother, he was a happy teen who “loved acting … loved videos” yet needed guidance.
Sgt. Paul Paulos, a police spokesman, said it’s unclear how many times Broadbent was hit Friday night. Authorities were awaiting autopsy results.
The shooter took off his shirt, rendered first aid to Broadbent and called police, Paulos said. But he died at the scene, at Summit Avenue and Mississippi River Boulevard.
Meanwhile, police used a helicopter to search for three juvenile males — two from St. Paul and one from an east metro suburb — who were later arrested as conspirators in the robbery.
Ramsey County attorney spokesman Dennis Gerhardstein said the robbery cases have been presented for charges. He said the office had not yet received a case on the shooting. “We understand that [the shooter] was not arrested and that the police view him to be the victim,” he said.
Paulos said the shooter went to the park Friday to view the blue moon. He met a second person sitting on the bluff. About 15 minutes later, they were accosted.
Paulos said the shooter and the other adult were cooperating with police. Their names have not been released.
Broadbent’s mother, Leeann Broadbent, said Monday that her son didn’t “have that kind of heart” to pull a gun on someone.
Broadbent, who was going into his junior year at Henry Sibley High School in Mendota Heights, was active in sports and had started getting “in a little trouble here and there, but nothing like this,” his mother said. “If someone pulled a gun on him, he would have dropped [his]” rather than shoot.
Minnesota legalized carrying a firearm in public in 2003. Advocates on Monday pointed to the victim’s ability to defend himself as an example of why the law was needed.
“He used [the law] effectively,” said Gardy Behrends, a longtime firearms instructor in Duluth.