Hennepin County prosecutors have leveled murder charges against the man who exchanged gunfire in a July drive-by shooting in north Minneapolis that killed his 2-year-old son.
Melvonte Lee Peterson, 25, now stands charged with two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of manslaughter in the July 15 death of Le’Vonte King Jason Jones, according to a post on the Minneapolis Police Department’s Facebook page.
Le’Vonte was shot in the chest as he sat in his father’s van July 8 at the intersection of Penn and Lowry avenues. A black Chevrolet Impala pulled up beside the van and started shooting, police said. A bullet also grazed the leg of Le’Vonte’s 15-month-old sister. Charges say Peterson fired back at his attackers before driving his children to a nearby hospital. Peterson was charged on the day of his son’s funeral with illegally possessing a firearm and drive-by shooting, both felonies. He was jailed in lieu of $1 million bail before the additional charges were filed.
According to the new charges, police found Peterson the day of the shooting at a Brooklyn Park apartment. Police searched the apartment and found a .45 caliber handgun in the basement rafters. Near the gun were cobwebs and insulation, substances found in Peterson’s hair when he was arrested.
A motive remains unclear, though investigators are looking closely at whether the shooting was in retaliation for a previous incident. Police are still trying to identify the driver of the Impala who exchanged gunfire with Peterson. Early on, a 31-year-old man from Circle Pines was arrested in connection with the shooting, but prosecutors determined they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him in Le’Vonte’s death.