New Brighton shooting suspect's wife now faces a murder charge

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 9, 2014 - 1:14 PM

Paula A. Zumberge, 50, was charged Thursday via warrant, and turned herself in to the Ramsey County jail, New Brighton's police chief said.

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The wife of a New Brighton man who allegedly fired a semiautomatic shotgun at his neighbors, killing one and wounding another, was charged Thursday with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder for reportedly encouraging her husband to “shoot, shoot, shoot, keep shooting.”

Paula A. Zumberge, 50, was charged Thursday via warrant, and turned herself in to the Ramsey County jail, said New Brighton Police Chief Bob Jacobson. She was booked by late afternoon and held in lieu of $1.5 million bail. Her husband, Neal C. Zumberge, 57, was charged Wednesday with the same counts as those against his wife, and is also being held on $1.5 million bail.

Todd G. Stevens, 46, was killed in the shooting, which took place outside his house in New Brighton Monday night. His longtime girlfriend, Jennifer Cleven, 48, was injured. The confrontation was the culmination of a long-standing feud between the neighbors over Stevens’ and Clevens’ habit of feeding deer and other wildlife in their yard.

According to the complaints filed against husband and wife:

Cleven called police on the Zumberge’s grown son, Jacob H. Zumberge, Monday when she ran into him at a New Brighton restaurant. He was wanted for an April 29 incident in which he threatened to burn down the house Cleven and Stevens shared.

The Zumberge family was allegedly upset about a 15-year-old feud over the feeding of the deer. Neal and Jacob Zumberge believed that the elder Zumberge contracted Lyme disease from a deer tick.

Jacob Zumberge, 23, was arrested about 6 p.m. Monday.

When Cleven returned to her New Brighton home in the 2500 block of Knollwood Drive about 8:30 p.m., she was confronted by Paula Zumberge, according to the complaint. The Zumberges live across the street from Stevens and Cleven.

“You [expletive] [expletive], you put my son in jail,” Paula Zumberge allegedly said to Cleven.

Stevens stepped outside to investigate the commotion, and Neal Zumberge allegedly fired on him and Cleven, who have been together for 18 years.

“Shoot, shoot, shoot, keep shooting,” Paula Zumberge reportedly said as her husband allegedly emptied his shotgun on the couple.

Stevens was shot several times in the head, chest, abdomen and extremities, according to the complaint. He died at the scene. Cleven suffered two wounds in the abdomen. She was treated at Hennepin County Medical Center and released Tuesday.

Cleven, who visited her home and crime scene Wednesday, was so fearful of Neal Zumberge that she filed a restraining order against him in 2013. The order is active until June 2015.

Meanwhile, Jacob Zumberge was charged Wednesday in Anoka County District Court with two felony counts of terroristic threats and one count of misdemeanor fifth-degree assault for the April incident.

According to charges, Cleven and Stevens were at the VFW in Spring Lake Park when Jacob Zumberge confronted them and began yelling and crying. He also threatened to burn down their home and kill them.

Jacob Zumberge remains in custody in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708

Twitter: @ChaoStrib

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