Minneapolis police were tipped off early this month that members of the violent 19 Block Dip Set gang had been stashing guns and large amounts of ammunition in an alleged plot to retaliate for the shooting death of their leader at a downtown nightclub last month.
In a high-risk raid last week, officers recovered seven guns, including several stored in a diaper box under a stairwell and another three loaded weapons in a dining room drawer in a north Minneapolis house where they also found an infant and, two other children.
It’s unclear, police said Tuesday, when the gang members intended to carry out their vengeance plan. The raid led to four arrests and charges against three men and a woman. At least two of the men are also connected to high-profile homicides in Minneapolis since 2006, police said, including the 2007 death of 14-year-old Charez Jones, the innocent victim of gang crossfire.
“These arrests and charges are a direct result of some excellent police work,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “And it may well have saved lives.”
Suspects Bridget Turntine, 33, Lamont McGee, 28, Veltrez Black, 25, and Ashimiyu Alowonle, 27, all of Minneapolis, made their first court appearances Monday. Bail was set at $150,000, with conditions, for Alowonle and Black. McGee’s bail was set at $250,000, and Turntine, who faces lesser charges, posted bail of $6,000.
The complaint said that police learned that members of the 19 Block Dip Set gang were storing illegal guns and ammunition at a house on the 3100 block of Girard Avenue N. where Turntine lived. Investigators learned that the gang was stockpiling the guns and ammunition so they could retaliate against anyone they felt was responsible for the shooting death of their leader, Tyrone Washington, at the Epic nightclub.
Victim had a record
Washington, 27, of Crystal, was shot at 1 a.m. Nov. 3 inside Epic nightclub by a man he was arguing with, according to police. The shooter then fled. Police found the victim lying on the sidewalk.
Washington was known to police officers from his repeated arrests for drug dealing, primarily marijuana. He had been ordered by a Hennepin County judge to stay out of downtown Minneapolis after he pleaded guilty in October to a charge of terroristic threats for the benefit of a gang. He was convicted of threatening to kill police officers after he was sprayed with chemical irritant on March 4 outside of a nightclub by officers who were trying to clear a crowd off the sidewalks, authorities said.
Alowonle was the main person obtaining the guns to be used in retaliation for Washington’s death, according to the criminal complaint. Minneapolis police obtained a search warrant Thursday night. McGee and Black were arrested in the dining room of the house; Alowonle was arrested while trying to flee the room.
Two of the children in the home are Turntine’s and the other was one in her care, police said. The children were taken into protective custody. Turntine faces three gross misdemeanor charges of endangerment of a child.
Officers also recovered several extended firearm magazines, a large amount of cash and marijuana in the house.
Histories of violence
The three men, who were each charged with being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm, have multiple felony convictions for violent crimes.
In March 2006, Alowonle was the intended target in a shooting that killed Alan Reitter, who was walking outside Block E around midnight. Alowonle and another gang member, Derick Holliday, had gotten into a fight at a movie theater that spilled out onto the street.
Several months later, Alowonle and gang member Justin Buckingham were charged with murder in the shooting death of 22-year-old Isalena B. Jones. The men had a beef with Jones’ boyfriend, police said. They were shooting at the boyfriend when they hit Jones in the 2100 block of Lyndale Avenue N.
A jury later acquitted Alowonle of murder, attempted murder and murder for the benefit of a gang.
Paul Maravigli, his attorney at the time, said the jury saw evidence that was far too flimsy to sustain convictions. He also encouraged Alowonle to move out of town and make a life for himself, saying he was a very smart young man.
In 2007, the North Side was rocked when Charez Jones was killed by a stray bullet as she walked home from a birthday party.
Black, Jones’ cousin, was charged with felony assault after he shot another gang member in the foot in retaliation for her death.