ST CLOUD - A 36-year-old St. Cloud man is accused of fatally shooting a woman in the neck outside their workplace after she repeatedly rebuffed his advances, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in Benton County District Court.
Michael J. Carpenter was charged with one felony count of second-degree murder in the homicide of 28-year-old Nicole M. Hammond of St. Cloud.
According to the complaint, police responded to a report of a gunshot at a textile business on the northeast side of St. Cloud just before 7 a.m. Monday. Police found Hammond lying in the parking lot near her car with a pool of blood around her head. Nearby were her keys and phone.
Two witnesses, also employees of the textile business, told police they saw Carpenter in the parking lot. One witness saw Carpenter near his car, which had the front and rear driver's side doors ajar; the other witness said they saw Carpenter leave his vehicle, then heard a gunshot and saw Carpenter jog back to his car and drive away, court documents state.
Investigators found multiple text messages between Hammond and Carpenter from the previous night where she said she "did not want to be touched by" Carpenter and told him to not make things uncomfortable at work, according to the complaint.
Multiple employees told police Carpenter had made numerous advances toward Hammond in the past month, and she had repeatedly rebuffed them. Some also described Carpenter as having a "bad temper," the complaint states.
Carpenter was arrested a few hours later at an apartment in Sauk Rapids. Investigators found a 9-mm pistol and loaded magazine in a case on the rear seat of Carpenter's car. The style and brand of bullets matched the shell casing at the scene, documents state.
When talking to investigators, Carpenter said he walked toward Hammond's car but heard a gunshot and saw a lot of blood so he left, the complaint states.
An autopsy showed the bullet hit the right side of Hammond's neck.
According to the state court system, Carpenter's only previous conviction in Minnesota was for a 2013 misdemeanor for an expired registration.
At Carpenter's first court appearance Wednesday, a judge set bail at $4 million. His next hearing is Nov. 8.
Minnesotans and others struggling with domestic violence can receive immediate help from the Day One Crisis Hotline by phone at 866-223-1111 or by text at 612-399-9995.