Murder and other charges were filed Tuesday against a machete-wielding domestic assault suspect accused of barreling down a St. Paul alley in a van at 80 mph before slamming into a sedan and killing the driver inside.
Shawn M. Konder, 26, of St. Paul, faces charges for third-degree murder, two counts of criminal vehicular homicide (one for driving under the influence of alcohol) and a count for terroristic threats. If convicted, Konder could face a maximum 50 years in prison.
He is the suspected driver of a white construction van that smashed into a sedan Lashay Whittaker was driving last Friday. The 41-year-old from Mounds View, who was a barber at the Grooming House on Selby Avenue, died minutes after the crash. He left behind his wife of 15 years, Ankquinet Whittaker, and two children, ages 8 and 14.
According to charges:
Konder was babysitting his 2-year-old son at the mother’s home on the 800 block of Blair Avenue in St. Paul. A teenager was also at the residence and told police that Konder left the house several times and came back drunk, the criminal complaint said.
Around 11 p.m., Konder and the teenager got into a fight because Konder kicked the teenager’s sister out. Konder used a racial slur toward the teen, triggering a pushing and shoving match that escalated to wrestling on the ground.
The child’s mother returned home to the two still wrestling and the 2-year-old “crying hysterically.” She called a friend who came to the home and asked Konder to leave, according to the complaint. He left and returned to the front door five minutes later, wielding an 18-inch machete. Konder did not threaten anyone, but demanded his phone charger be returned.
Then, Konder drove his white 2015 Ram ProMaster City into a nearby alley, acting like he was going to hit the friend’s car. The mother followed his van down the alley where he got out, raised the machete and allegedly threatened to kill her. Konder got back in the van and began driving it around the neighborhood at high speeds, the complaint said. The friend called police around midnight, saying Konder “threatened to stab the boy” and “shoot the boy’s mother and her.”
Konder was driving without his headlights on and passed three different squad cars while circling the neighborhood before turning down an alley between University and Sherburne avenues. One officer couldn’t activate their emergency lights, but followed the van down the alley. The van was traveling an estimated 80 miles per hour, fishtailing and spraying wet snow. The officer, a block behind the van, heard a loud crash and saw smoke and debris in the air, the complaint said.
One side of a garage on the 800 block of Sherburne Avenue had collapsed on top of Whittaker’s Nissan Maxima, which was sheared in half. Konder’s van had spun around and was stopped in the alley. Whittaker was extracted from his car and taken to the hospital via ambulance where he was pronounced dead.
Konder tried to escape on foot, but fell to the ground and was arrested. He was taken to Regions Hospital for treatment of a cracked sternum and broken clavicle. While he was transported to the hospital, Konder laughed and referred to the incident as a cat-and-mouse game that he had lost, the complaint said.
Officers who cuffed Konder noted he had bloodshot, watery eyes and slurred speech. Konder admitted he had been drinking alcohol, and authorities recovered seven mini-shots of Fireball whiskey from his pants pocket. A blood sample was drawn from Konder and was submitted for analysis.
In a police interview, Konder admitted he had been drinking because he had not been allowed to see his son for two weeks. He kept the machete in his car for protection after he was robbed at a job site. Konder admitted he caused the accident and said he deserved whatever he got for ruining their lives, the complaint said.
Konder appeared in court on Tuesday where his bail was set at $500,000.
Trevor Squire is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.