A teenager is facing several years in prison after admitting to being the 14-year-old who fired eight retaliatory shots at a gunman in north Minneapolis, and also shooting and critically wounding a man outside an eighth-grade party barely a year later.
Kyreon T.K. Watkins listened to opening statements Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court and then brought the trial to an end by agreeing to plead guilty to second-degree assault for the first shooting incident and first-degree assault for the second.
Watkins is expected to receive a sentence of more than nine years in prison, according to the county attorney’s office, with the probability of supervised release after slightly more than six.
“Gun violence, regardless of the age of the shooter, must be firmly and directly met,” County Attorney Mike Freeman said in announcing the plea. “This sentence is appropriate for this unacceptable conduct.”
On Feb. 27, 2010, when Watkins was 14, he was on a Metro Transit bus near 49th and Humboldt Avenues N. in Minneapolis when someone shot two of his teen acquaintances on board. Watkins got off the bus, ran after the shooter and fired eight times but missed.
The shooting on the bus culminated a bloody first two months that year in the city involving young people, prompting Mayor R.T. Rybak to make a public plea for citizens to work together against youth violence.
Watkins was arrested, placed in a residential treatment facility and certified in December 2010 to stand trial as an adult.
While on a weekend pass from that facility, Watkins, then 15, showed up uninvited — and armed — to an eighth-grade graduation party on June 10, 2011, in the 3200 block of Logan Avenue N. He and several others were wearing all red and were told to leave because there was “no gangbanging” at the house, according to the criminal complaint.
Angered, Watkins pulled out a handgun with a laser sight and pointed it at partygoers on the front porch. Watkins shot a man in the shoulder and abdomen, critically but not fatally wounding him.
It was during the opening statements in the first shooting that Watkins decided to admit to both acts of violence.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482