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But Damerow Cleven’s petition last year for a restraining order against Zumberge, which was granted and was in effect for another year, provided insight into the mounting tension. It included references to dead animals apparently being shot with a BB gun and deposited in the yard of the home she shared with Stevens; three specific instances when Zumberge threatened to beat her up; repeated threats to kill more deer at their feeder.
Zumberge was cited last August for violating the order, records show.
“I am scared of him,” Damerow Cleven wrote. “I have had New Brighton police go over to his residence at least two times.”
After Stevens found two dead deer in his yard, he installed surveillance cameras on his property, Comer said. It’s not known if the cameras captured Monday’s shooting. Comer said his son had seen Zumberge walking by with his dog minutes before it happened, then heard the shots. A shotgun was later recovered by police, who also executed two search warrants of the property.
Police have not provided an account of what sparked the bloodshed, but Stevens and one of Zumberge’s sons apparently had a heated exchange at the VFW Post in Spring Lake Park a week earlier, said bartender Sam Even, who witnessed the argument.
She said Jacob Zumberge was talking with Damerow Cleven when Stevens came up and began insulting the younger Zumberge’s mother.
“It’s just really sad,” Even said. “But this has been going on for years.”
About two hours before the shooting Monday, Jacob Zumberge was arrested at a New Brighton bar at the request of Spring Lake Park police on suspicion of making terroristic threats and fifth-degree assault.
Neighbors said Tuesday they suspect the arrest stemmed from the confrontation at the VFW.
“In some ways, it’s not shocking,” said Williams, thinking of the long-running rift between Stevens and the alleged shooter.
“Who would let deer get in the way of …” Williams said, her voice trailing off. “It’s deer, and [to] take a life over that?”
Staff Writers Nicole Norfleet and James Walsh contributed to this report.
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