A man was fatally gunned down early Wednesday in his Prior Lake home, and one of three suspects was injured after a car chase and shootout with Eden Prairie police at an Edina highway exit ramp, authorities said.
The victim was identified by his brother and a Mdewakanton Sioux spokeswoman as 42-year-old James Herron, a member of the tribe and relative of its co-founder and first chairman, the late Norman Crooks.
The other two suspects in the early morning shooting were apprehended before 3 a.m. near the Bren Road-Londonderry Road exit to Hwy. 169, said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. He said the wounded man is being treated at a hospital, but declined to say whether he would survive his injuries.
Stanek said a suspect fired at police, drawing return fire from the Eden Prairie officers.
Emergency dispatch audio from the scene in Edina aired with one officer saying, “He did shoot at me. He’s not been moving. ... but he had a gun in his right hand. No movement so far for about 2 minutes.”
The driver’s side door of the car remained open after daybreak. Just below the driver’s side seat on the door jamb sat a pink costume mask, and cash could be seen on the seat.
The suspects’ vehicle sped away as police arrived at the home, and officers began their pursuit of the three, described on dispatch audio as two men and one woman.
The vehicle hit police “stop sticks,” bringing it to a halt on the ramp shortly before the suspect was shot, the audio continued.
Eden Prairie Police Chief James DeMann said in a statement that his officers are “doing as well as can be expected.”
“Across this nation, law enforcement officers start their shift not knowing what that shift is going to bring,” he said. “I am extremely proud of these officers. ...They took action to keep themselves and the community safe.”
Stanek said that one of the Eden Prairie officers who shot at the suspect has been with the department for eight years and the other for five years. The BCA is handling the investigation of the Prior Lake killing, while the sheriff’s office is heading the inquiry into the Edina shooting.
Victim was targeted
The Prior Lake slaying occurred at a home in the 2100 block of Sioux Trail NW, near Mystic Lake Casino, Police Chief Mark Elliott said. Paramedics from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community responded and took the man to nearby St. Francis Hospital, where he died.
Emergency police dispatch audio revealed that Herron was shot in the head and torso, possibly with a .22-caliber handgun.
Chad Holland said his brother was a grandson of Crooks, who was among the founders of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community that organized in 1969 and who was its first chairman. While an attorney for Herron also said his client was a grandson to Crooks, a spokeswoman for the tribe said Crooks was Herron’s great uncle.
Holland said his brother lived on casino proceeds, which are divided among tribal members.
Although he did not know of a motive in the killing, Holland said his brother has been the victim of extortion in the past.
The American Indian community released a statement that read, “We mourn the loss of one of our members.”
The statement added that “we are assuring our members that this incident was isolated and there is no threat to the safety of others.”
Late Wednesday morning, a Mystic Lake security vehicle was blocking the entrance to the Indian-owned subdivision where Herron was killed.
“This person was targeted,” Elliott said, when asked about a motive and whether the suspects knew the victim, who was shot numerous times.
Herron had been in and out of legal trouble for a number of years, in particular for domestic abuse, said Matthew Mankey, who represented him in a drug possession case from 2012 and other matters.
“He was really proud of his native heritage,” Mankey said.
“He had some trouble and a few chemical dependency issues. He really adored his children and had a strong sense of family.”
A high school friend of Herron’s, Jason Stipp, said he stayed in touch with Herron in Facebook conversations and described him as “a great guy [but] a little rough around the edges. ... I never knew anyone who he didn’t make laugh.”
Star Tribune photographer David Joles contributed to this report.