Daniel Cornell, 19, allegedly provided a gun used in a Russian roulette game gone bad. More charges are expected.
The fatal shooting of a 15-year-old St. Paul boy on Thanksgiving morning came after a house party, games of Russian roulette, a confrontation with other teens and shots fired into a nearby home where those teens were believed to be, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday against a 19-year-old man.
Daniel T. Cornell, of St. Paul, is charged in Ramsey County District Court with three counts in last week's death of Darion Joseph Smith, a student at St. Paul Central High School. Cornell faces counts of aiding an offender, furnishing a dangerous weapon and furnishing a dangerous weapon to a minor.
Cornell also was charged with two counts of second-degree assault in connection with the shots fired into the nearby home, about a half-block away on Abell Street. His bail is set at $100,000.
Ramsey County authorities said they expect on Tuesday to file juvenile charges against a 16-year-old boy who allegedly pulled the trigger of a .22-caliber revolver and shot Smith in the back of the head.
According to the criminal complaint:
In the hours leading up to the shooting, Cornell and others in the E. Maryland Avenue house had been playing Russian roulette with the revolver. It was brought to the house by Cornell and only had empty cartridge cases during the games, even though Cornell acted as if it were loaded.
However, when the people in the house were ready to leave, Cornell loaded the handgun with three live rounds. Soon after, the 16-year-old took possession of the gun and pulled the trigger as it was aimed at the back of Smith's head.
"I didn't know it was loaded," the complaint quoted the shooter as saying at that moment. "I didn't mean to."
Cornell went to the house about 10 p.m. Wednesday for a party, according to the complaint, and spent the night there with a group that included Smith and the 16-year-old who shot him.
Police interviewed the people at the house that night. One of them said that Cornell went outside between midnight and 1 a.m., when he was chased by a group of young men and hit with a baseball bat, the complaint said. When he came back in the house, Cornell and the 16-year-old were upset, went upstairs to get the gun and left, according to the complaint.
In an interview with police, Cornell told investigators that Smith and the 16-year-old got the gun for him and went looking for the group, who had been driving around in a gold-colored car. Cornell heard shots, and when the two came back, they said they fired into a house where they had seen the car, according to the complaint.