Minneapolis police are looking into the possibility that a pair of recent homicide victims were targeted for divulging information about two other local killings.
Detectives are investigating whether Aaron J. Williams was killed May 30 because he gave police information about the shooting of 26-year-old Iesha L. Wiley outside of a north Minneapolis strip mall two weeks before.
That revelation provides a possible motive for his killing, according to three people familiar with the case. Another theory that investigators are considering is that Williams was killed after a drug deal went bad.
Williams, 22, was found shot in a parked van in north Minneapolis' Jordan neighborhood last week. He died two hours later at North Memorial Medical Center.
Witnesses described a man hopping out of a "white truck," identified as a Jeep in scanner reports, and getting into Williams' blue economy van moments before the shooting. The suspect then fled the scene in the white truck, which was driven by another man.
No arrests have been announced in that slaying.
Police are looking into whether Wiley's death was connected to a 2016 homicide on the city's North Side.
For months, detectives had suspected three Young N' Thuggin' gang members in the death of Crystal Collins, a mother of three who was gunned down in broad daylight last July on the corner of 30th and Newton avenues.
But detectives later learned that Wiley had told a family member that she knew the shooter's identity. According to a search warrant application filed Thursday, Wiley told the relative that the alleged gunman had accidentally shot Collins while targeting a rival gang member and later dumped the firearm into the Mississippi River.
Wiley was shot following a May 12 confrontation with her boyfriend in the parking lot of a North Side strip mall. Nicholas A. Jefferson of Minneapolis, who was not Wiley's boyfriend, was charged Friday with second-degree murder in connection with her death.
The killings raised questions by one City Council member about whether police were doing enough to protect witnesses who cooperate with law enforcement.
"We need to figure out to best way to protect these folks. I know that what we have isn't sufficient," said Blong Yang, a council member who chairs the Public Safety Committee. Yang said it's "concerning" that Williams and Wiley might have been killed for their cooperation.
"If we're looking at the witness protection program as the model that we're trying to move to, we're nowhere close to it," he said.
Minneapolis police did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday evening.