A drug deal ended with the seller shot in the head and left in a snowbank on a dark south metro street by the gunman, who fled in his victim's vehicle, according to a murder charge filed Thursday afternoon.

Gabriel Alfonso Sanchez Cruz, 42, was charged in Dakota County District Court with second-degree intentional murder in connection with the killing Sunday night in Inver Grove Heights of Bryant J. Lutgens, whose 39th birthday would have been the next day.

Cruz, of Minneapolis, remains jailed without bail ahead of a court appearance Friday. Court records do not list an attorney for him. Lutgens' body was spotted about 8 a.m. Monday just east of Interstate 494 on the south side of the 1300 block of W. 60th Street.

According to the criminal complaint, a woman told police that while she and Cruz were at Cruz's apartment Sunday night, he asked her whether Lutgens had any meth to sell. She arranged for them to talk on the phone, and the two men set up a meeting.

She said Cruz returned to the apartment about 11:45 p.m. She said he appeared "off" and was talking very fast. Cruz then told her that he shot Lutgens.

Cruz explained that he pulled out a gun intending to rob Lutgens, and the two started struggling over Lutgens' backpack. Lutgens fell, Cruz shot him and fled with all of Lutgens' belongings, Cruz said. Inver Grove Heights police put out an alert to other law enforcement to be on the lookout for Lutgens' rented SUV. The rental company used its tracking system and located the vehicle Wednesday night in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis police tried to stop the SUV, and a gun was thrown from the vehicle as it was being pursued. The SUV soon crashed in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, and Cruz fled from the vehicle along with two other occupants, police say. Cruz was quickly arrested.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482