Antonio Espana-Estrada had just finished work Thursday evening at a St. Paul food distributor when he was ambushed in the parking lot by a man with a gun.
The man fired several rounds, striking Espana-Estrada in the torso, and started to walk away before returning to finish the job, according to murder charges filed Monday.
Chee Kong Yang, 28, was charged with second-degree murder in Ramsey County District Court in connection with last week's fatal shooting on the city's West Side. He remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail.
A motive for the attack is unclear. Charging documents do not indicate whether the men knew each other.
Officers found 37-year-old Espana-Estrada of Minneapolis suffering from multiple gunshot wounds outside J&P Trading's main entrance around 5:30 p.m. Thursday. He was taken to Regions Hospital, where he died.
Minutes later, officers responded to a hit-and-run on Hwy. 52 and Concord involving a minivan. Shortly after, witnesses reported a possible assault at Jackson and E. Sycamore streets.
Police found an injured woman, who they believe either fell or was pushed from the suspect's minivan that crashed into the Oakland Cemetery fence. The woman, later identified as Yang's girlfriend, was hospitalized with a noncritical neck injury.
Yang fled on foot but was quickly caught by police, charges say. A police canine found a discarded gray sweatshirt, an item that matched the shooting suspect's description.
The van abandoned at the scene had the same license plate as the one involved in the hit-and-run, authorities said, and shared distinct features with the shooting suspect's vehicle — such as two-tone paint and missing hubcaps.
A witness from J&P Trading, an Asian food manufacturer not far from the Downtown St. Paul Airport, told police that Yang pulled into the parking lot that evening with a female passenger. They argued as she apparently tried to restrain him from getting out of the vehicle, according to the criminal complaint:
But Yang persisted, the witness said, and approached Espana-Estrada as he crossed the parking lot. Espana-Estrada made it only several paces from the front door before being gunned down.
Yang then ran back toward the van before turning around. He fired several more shots at Espana-Estrada as he lay wounded on the ground, charges say.
Police collected at least six 9-millimeter shell casings at the scene, but a gun was never recovered.
During an interview at Regions Hospital, Yang's girlfriend told investigators they had been drinking beer at his mother's house earlier that day.
They eventually headed toward the Concord-Robert neighborhood, where Yang pulled his van into a warehouse parking lot. She heard a click and, believing he had a gun, physically tried to keep him inside the vehicle.
He then "popped out of the van and started shooting everywhere," she said, according to the complaint. She said she didn't remember anything after that.
Yang declined an interview with police. He has previous misdemeanor convictions for assault, disorderly conduct and drug possession.
Espana-Estrada's death marks the 31st homicide of the year, including a fatal police shooting.
A spike in gun violence earlier this fall doubled St. Paul's typical murder rate, marking an all-time high in shooting deaths.