Mushroom deal gone bad led to St. Paul teen being bound

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 24, 2012 - 9:51 PM

The St. Paul teen recently found bound in the back of a car was selling psychedelic mushrooms when his customer and two other men kidnapped him at gunpoint, according to charges filed Friday.

The teen, 18, drove to a home near Case and Payne Avenues Wednesday, where he met up with Khalil A. Zeno, 18, of St. Paul, according to a criminal complaint filed in Ramsey County District Court.

According to the complaint: After receiving the mushrooms, Zeno told the teen to drive around with him until his girlfriend could bring money to pay for them. The teen was suspicious of two men who were in the area, but Zeno told him not to worry.

The teen eventually parked the car. That's when a man tapped on his window and pointed a gun at him. The teen tried to flee, but Zeno also pointed a gun at him.

Zeno and two men forced the teen out, walked him into a nearby alley and into a garage. They took his shoes, jacket and wallet. They taped his hands behind his back and taped his eyes shut.

The teen told police he then heard his mother's PT Cruiser, which he had been driving. He was forced into the back seat.

The men asked the teen which of his friends had weed and money. The teen was concerned that they wanted to rob his friends, so he gave them numbers for friends who wouldn't answer their phones.

The men made the teen climb into the car's hatchback area. One of them punched and pushed him, the complaint said. The man told him he would see his mother again if he cooperated.

The men drove around and eventually stopped. The windows were rolled down and the teen reported hearing gang names being yelled. The men jumped out of the car and a fight ensued outside. The men jumped back in and took off, and the teen heard a loud thump as they drove away.

Police had been called about 11:40 p.m. to the fight and for shots fired near Baker Park. A 911 caller identified the PT Cruiser, which was located on W. 7th Street and Smith Avenue, just north of the High Bridge, speeding and running red lights. It was stopped near Jackson Street and Jenks Avenue, about 4 miles farther north, by a State Patrol squad.

Zeno fled from the car and was arrested nearby. He had a gunshot wound to the shoulder.

Two boys, ages 16 and 17, were removed from the back seat. They told police they had been picked up just before the fight, and did not know that the teen was in the hatchback.

Zeno is charged with kidnapping and motor vehicle theft.

Devonte M. Johnson-Hall and Damon K. Walker, both 18-year-old St. Paul residents, were also charged. Johnson-Hall is charged with kidnapping, motor vehicle theft and fleeing police in a motor vehicle. He was in the driver's seat.

Walker is charged with kidnapping and motor vehicle theft. He told police that it was Zeno's idea to rob the teen, and that he taped the teen and put him in the back of the car.

Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708 Twitter: @ChaoStrib

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