Cops tracked cell phone to nab suspects in U of M robberies, shooting

With a court order to track a stolen phone with GPS technology, police arrested two suspects in a Jan. 25 crime spree that included the shooting of a U of M sophomore.

University of Minnesota police say a signal from a stolen cell phone led to more than two weeks' surveillance and the arrests of two suspects believed responsible for a string of robberies on Jan. 25 that culminated with the shooting of a student in front of his dorm.

Police say they believe the suspects also committed similar robberies that same night in south Minneapolis.

Derrell Jacori Cole, 16, and a 21-year-old man, both of Minneapolis, were arrested this week in connection with the robberies that ended with the shooting of 19-year-old sophomore Timothy Schumacher, who has recovered and since returned to class.

Cole, who was held in the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center, was charged Wednesday with two counts of first-degree aggravated robbery in connection with the robbery of two female students outside Moos Hall. The second suspect, who was arrested outside his home Monday evening, remains in the Hennepin County jail. He is expected to be charged with aggravated robbery on Friday.

University Police Chief Greg Hestness said that although he believes both suspects were involved in a total of three incidents, it is unclear who shot Schumacher in the stomach, so the charges so far don't include the shooting.

"We haven't identified the shooter sufficient to charge," he said. "We are quite confident [Cole] is one of the two robbers that night, whether he was the shooter or not. We still have to ascertain and really pin down the second person and the other conspirators [that] there might be."

Minneapolis police Capt. Amelia Huffman said the clues began to add up in similarities among the Jan. 25 robberies on and off campus, pointing toward a "crime spree."

Police focused on the suspects less than 48 hours after the robberies by determining that one of the victims' cell phones was being used. Police received a court order to track its movement through GPS technology. They recovered the phone in a search of one of the suspects' homes, but no gun was found. A robbery victim and witnesses were able to identify the men out of a photo lineup, the complaint said.

The men gave statements about the shooting, but police declined Thursday to give details, citing the ongoing investigation.

"My belief was their intent was to commit a robbery," Hestness said. "Why they went to the shooting so quickly, it's hard to answer at this point."

University police originally took some heat from students and families for waiting until the next day to notify students of the shooting by e-mail, instead of immediately using the school's TXT-U emergency text-message notification system. Officials said they did not send the text because they believed the suspects had fled the campus.

"In hindsight, we probably could have used the TXT-U," Hestness said. "It's not exactly what that was designed for, but it would have been a good choice on that particular night."

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921

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