St. Paul homicide victim had troubled past

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 30, 2011 - 3:19 PM

Dekoda Galtney, who was released from prison last year, was gunned down in Dayton's Bluff on Wednesday.

A 24-year-old St. Paul man with a troubled past was fatally shot in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood Wednesday as bystanders and children fled in fear.

The shooting of confirmed gang member Dekoda M. Galtney was not random, police said, but the motive and circumstances remain under investigation. A 24-year-old man was arrested Thursday and booked for aiding an offender.

"We have not ruled out the possibility of additional arrests," said officer John Keating, a police spokesman.

Galtney, released from prison in June 2010, was shot about 6:30 p.m. near the intersection of 4th Street E. and Bates Avenue. Friends drove him to Regions Hospital, where he died.

Asked if the crime was gang-related, Keating said police are still investigating.

A witness who declined to be identified for safety reasons said she was walking to the bus stop with her sister and her sister's children when Galtney was shot. A car sped down 4th Street toward Bates, stopped at the corner and a front seat passenger jumped out and fired five shots at Galtney as he walked down the street alone, she said.

The witness said Galtney was on his cellphone arguing with someone just before the shooting.

"We started running," the woman said. "Kids were out here. It just doesn't make sense."

Friends said Galtney was trying to better his life after serving three years in prison. He was on intensive supervised release.

His sister, Erica Stevenson, said he studied cosmetology in prison.

"He used his time to focus and get his life together," she said.

Galtney was cutting hair at Clean Cuts in St. Paul, said his friend Tru James.

"He was just another person trying to get ahead in life," James said.

Galtney left behind three children: a 4-month-old daughter and two sons, ages 3 and 2 months, Stevenson said.

Friends arrived at the crime scene throughout the day, some alternately swigging from bottles of gin and dumping alcohol on the sidewalk in a show of camaraderie with their late friend. Some left behind finished or half-full bottles.

Sharon Kennedy was among the first visitors. Galtney was one of many boys who spent afternoons at her St. Paul house with her four sons, but Kennedy said he was one of the few whose politeness stood out.

"He was one of the good ones," Kennedy said. "He was always respectful to me."

Court records, however, show a troubled young man. In March 2006, Galtney pleaded guilty to third-degree riot for the benefit of a gang. According to charges, Galtney was one of four confirmed Lower Town Gangsters who incited a large riot at a basketball game at Johnson Senior High School in January 2006. One person was shot in the stomach.

In 2007 he was convicted of aggravated robbery, illegal gun possession and two counts of crimes benefitting a gang. He and another gang member assaulted and robbed a victim at gunpoint, and he fired shots at rival Eastside Boys gang members, charges show.

Galtney's death was the city's fifth homicide this year.

Staff reporter Rochelle Olson contributed to this report. Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708 Twitter: @ChaoStrib

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