A baby boy and a 20-year-old man who recently was released from prison were shot and killed Sunday afternoon as they sat in the back seat of a parked car in south Minneapolis. Just across the street from the crime scene, a soccer game and barbecue were underway in a sunlit park.
As of 7 p.m., police had not announced any arrests. Several people were taken to the department’s homicide unit downtown for questioning, said Minneapolis police spokesman Corey Schmidt.
Accounts varied of the suspect’s description and whether he left the scene on foot, by bike or in a car, according to police scanner audio.
Intermittent loud music and cheering from Stewart Park competed with the heartbreaking sound of relatives and friends of the victims, who screamed, sobbed and fell into one another’s arms.
The man was the intended target of the shooting; it was not a random incident, Schmidt said. He said police didn’t believe there was any threat to people in the park or nearby residents.
Schmidt said police received a 911 call reporting shots fired shortly after 1:30 p.m.
The man and 8-month-old baby were found in a car parked in a small area next to a home in the 1100 block of E. 26th Street. Schmidt said he was “not aware” of anyone in the front seat at the time. The baby was in a car seat.
The male, after being pulled from the car by rescue workers, was pronounced dead at the scene; the baby was taken to nearby Minneapolis Children’s Hospital, where he died a short time later.
Schmidt said the man was not the baby’s father.
The baby was Jayden Redden, said Jasmine Lindstrom, who identified herself at the scene as his aunt. He was born Feb. 10, she said.
Another woman, Julia Johnson, 34, of Minneapolis, said the dead man was her brother, Gustav (Gutt) D. Christianson, 20.
Christianson’s body lay uncovered outside the open rear driver’s side door. Later, police put up a makeshift screen to shield the body from public view after people in the crowd complained. Schmidt said he explained to bystanders that police couldn’t cover the body because it might introduce evidence to the scene that wasn’t there when he was shot.
Several people were taken to the department’s homicide unit downtown for questioning while police tried to determine who is a witness and who is a suspect, Schmidt said.
Schmidt urged any potential witnesses to tell police what they saw or what they heard.
“No matter how small the information … that really could be something that could break this case wide open,” he said.
Johnson said she and her husband were driving in the area when her nephew called, saying her brother had been shot. She said she had last seen her brother two days ago when he came home to change clothes. He was wearing the same clothes when she saw him lying dead on the asphalt, she said.
Christianson recently had been released from prison, she said, and was in a treatment program. He had ties to the Native MOB gang, and his family was trying to keep him away from his old life, his sister said.
“I basically raised him,” Johnson said. “Like my mom always said, ‘if somebody walks out the door, you never know if they’re going to come back.’ ”
Records from the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) show that Christianson was sentenced in March 2014 to three years in prison for second-degree assault. Details of that crime were not available Sunday. He was released June 20. As of July 29, he was considered a “wanted fugitive,” the DOC website showed.
A post on Christianson’s Facebook page shows him holding an unidentified infant. Another post says he married “Bionca Jean” in August.
The last time a young child was shot to death in Minneapolis was in early July when 2-year-old Le’Vonte King Jason Jones was killed and his 15-month-old sister, Mela Queen Melvina Jones, was wounded in a drive-by shooting in north Minneapolis. The children were in a vehicle with their father when he and another man exchanged gunfire at Penn and Lowry Avenues N. The father has been charged with murder and manslaughter in connection with the case.