Several felony assault charges were filed Wednesday against a 28-year-old man accused of shooting at two Minnesota National Guard members stationed in north Minneapolis during a drive-by assault Sunday.
The charges in Hennepin County District Court against Andrew Thomas — three counts of first-degree assault against a peace officer, two counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and an illegal weapons possession count — are in addition to a felony weapons possession count filed Monday in U.S. District Court.
Thomas, who court records list with a Minneapolis or a Chicago address, was arrested Sunday night in his SUV and booked Monday into the Hennepin County jail and was transferred into federal custody the next day. A juvenile female, who he had just met at a Twin Cities hotel, was in the vehicle and told officers where to find a gun in the SUV, according to the latest charges. His attorney in the federal case, Manny Atwal, said, "I just got the case [and] will be looking into the allegations soon." Thomas has yet to secure counsel for the state case, Atwal said.
The soldiers were wounded near N. Penn Avenue and West Broadway while on patrol as part of Operation Safety Net, a joint effort among the Minneapolis Police Department, Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, the state of Minnesota and local jurisdictions that have been activated in response to protests of police violence in the Twin Cities.
According to the criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County: About 4:20 a.m. Sunday, Thomas fired several shots from an SUV at two Minneapolis squad cars and three Guard vehicles. The SUV sped off. One soldier in a Humvee was injured by broken glass; the other in the same vehicle sustained "superficial injuries," the Minnesota U.S. Attorney's Office said.
One Guard member said the gunfire was coming from the driver of the SUV. Discharged cartridge casings were collected by law enforcement at the scene. On city-operated video surveillance, law enforcement officials saw several identifying characteristics of the SUV, among them a rear window that was dirty other than where the wiper blade sweeps, a poorly illuminated rear license plate, "extremely tinted" windows, a black bike rack on the roof and a white sticker in the front window.
About 9:50 p.m. that same day, officers on routine patrol spotted the SUV near S. 6th Street and S. Cedar Avenue. The driver took off and made evasive movements before he pulled into a parking lot at 2100 S. Bloomington Av.
Star Tribune staff writer Andy Mannix contributed to this report.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482