A St. Paul man has been charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 23-year-old makeup artist Nia Black.
James J. Fields, 35, was charged in Ramsey County District Court on Tuesday in connection with Black's June 13 death following a brawl outside Lamplighter Cocktail Lounge. He remains jailed in lieu of $1.5 million bail.
Fields' criminal history includes felony convictions for dangerous discharge of a firearm, burglary and assault — the latter of which stemmed from a shooting in the same bar parking lot six years earlier.
That incident came more than a year after Fields — identified as a founding member of an East Side street gang — was featured in the Pioneer Press for his efforts to help local youth escape a life of crime.
According to the criminal complaint:
Officers were called to the scene in the 100 block of W. Larpenteur Avenue at 1:15 a.m. on reports of a large fight in the parking lot.
Shortly afterward, Ramsey County sheriff's deputies stopped a car speeding north on Rice Street on the way to the hospital. Deputies found Black mortally wounded in the front passenger seat. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Black, of Coon Rapids, was a licensed cosmetologist who ran a makeup studio in northeast Minneapolis that catered to celebrity clients.
Surveillance footage and witness statements helped investigators reconstruct the chaos that night, which began shortly after Black and her friends arrived at the Lamplighter.
Police say Black got into a verbal altercation and the fight devolved "into a widespread brawl" as people spilled out of the bar and into the parking lot, according to the charges. Black and her friends sprinted for their car and sped toward the exit, hitting several pedestrians.
Shots rang out as their vehicle pulled away from the lot, shattering the back window and striking Black in the head.
Videos of the melee and ensuing gunfire quickly emerged on social media, depicting a man in white clothing and black shoes in a "shooting stance."
Authorities later identified the man as Fields after a search of his home revealed clothing that appeared to match apparel worn in the surveillance footage and bystander videos.
The investigation may result in additional charges.