The robber pressed a handgun to the temple of a man who interrupted a garage burglary at a Brooklyn Park apartment complex.
The 29-year-old man stood there.
The weapon went "click."
Twice more, police said, the 21-year-old gunman squeezed the trigger. Each time, the well-worn .38-caliber weapon refused to fire.
That's when felon Nathaniel E. Reynolds fled, only to be quickly corralled by several people who came to the aid of the man who was nearly shot execution style last week, according to charges filed in Hennepin County District Court.
Reynolds, of Fridley, appeared in court Monday on charges of attempted murder, armed robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He remains jailed in lieu of $750,000 bail.
The criminal complaint suggests that the gun misfired each time. Deputy Police Chief Mark Bruley said that the lead investigator on the case "seems to think" that's the case, but that "we have no idea right now."
Bruley said the Police Department sent the firearm to the Hennepin County crime lab for a firm answer as to how this man avoided near-certain death.
Neither police nor the county attorney's office disclosed the victim's identity.
Police said it was well into the night Wednesday when the man came to his garage at the apartment complex, on 65th Avenue N. between Zane and Douglas avenues, with the key — intending to close and lock the door.
However, he noticed Reynolds and two other men "rummaging around inside … using a cellphone as a flashlight," the complaint read.
That's when, according to police, Reynolds drew his gun and ordered the man to his knees. The man stood in defiance of that command.
Reynolds ripped two necklaces — one with an image of the Virgin Mary on it — off the man, police allege.
Then he pressed the gun's barrel to his victim's temple.
Despite the initial squeeze of the trigger and two more after Reynolds re-racked the weapon, no shot was ever fired, the complaint read.
Reynolds ran, and the man chased after him, knocked the weapon free and screamed for neighbors to call 911.
Officers said that when they arrived, a shirtless Reynolds was surrounded by several people as the victim stood nearby.
The officers found the gun, loaded, not far from the scene.
Under police questioning, according to the charges, Reynolds admitted being in the garage and at the scene of the robbery.
A telephone message was left with Reynolds' attorney seeking a response to the allegations.
Reynolds' criminal history in Minnesota includes a conviction in August 2015 in Hennepin County after he pleaded guilty to robbery, while having charges of auto theft and fleeing police dismissed.
He was sentenced to six months in the workhouse and three years' probation, which included the requirements that he commit no crimes and not possess a firearm.