Minneapolis police have arrested a second man in connection with the shooting death of a 2-year-old boy on the North Side July 8.
The 31-year-old Circle Pines man, who is expected to face murder charges, was booked into the Hennepin County jail Wednesday night. The Star Tribune generally does not name suspects who have not been charged.
The toddler, Le'Vonte King Jason Jones, was shot in the chest as he sat in his father's van during a drive-by shooting on July 8. His 25-year-old father, Melvonte L. Peterson, of Brooklyn Center, was jailed Friday — the day of Le'Vonte's funeral — on felony charges stemming from the killing, which stunned the city and sparked a renewed effort to end the street violence that has plagued north Minneapolis the past few months.
The charges against Peterson say he exchanged gunfire with the driver of a black Chevrolet Impala who had fired the two initial shots, mortally wounding Le'Vonte and grazing his 15-month-old sister in the leg.
Several of the rounds fired by Peterson struck a nearby hardware store, according to the criminal complaint. Since Peterson has a prior drug conviction, he is prohibited from carrying a firearm, prosecutors said.
A motive remains unclear, though investigators are looking closely at whether the shooting was in retaliation for an earlier incident.
Relatives insisted that Peterson was just trying to defend himself and his children when he returned fire. After the attack, he rushed the children to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where Le'Vonte died.
Police later found two bullet holes in the van and a discharged cartridge casing from a .45-caliber gun on the driver's side floor.
Peterson was charged with possessing a firearm after a conviction for a violent crime and drive-by shooting, both felonies. He remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail and will appear in court at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
The man arrested Wednesday has a criminal history dating back to 2002, with previous convictions for aggravated robbery, assault, theft and drug possession.
Staff writer Libor Jany contributed to this report.