A man who suffered from mental illness for years has been charged with killing a Minneapolis man who shot and wounded two police officers in 1979 after mistaking them for burglars.
Murder charges were filed Tuesday against Ronald Bailey, who police say was seen on camera going into the northeast Minneapolis apartment of Riley B. Housley III before Housley was attacked on Jan. 21.
Bailey was arrested Tuesday afternoon and was being held in Hennepin County jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
Housley’s death, initially thought to have been accidental, was later ruled a homicide. Three homicide detectives were eventually assigned to the investigation.
Housley, 61, was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died eight days after the attack. An autopsy concluded that he had died of a blunt force head injury and ruled his death a homicide.
On Jan. 21, Housley’s girlfriend came home to find him sitting upright on a couch in his northeast Minneapolis apartment and called a friend, who came over. The friend later told officers that he immediately suspected foul play and called 911, authorities say. The suspected murder weapon, a hammer, was found in the building’s laundry room, covered in blood, according to court filings.
When the man asked Housley, “Who did this to you?” Housley only uttered one word: “Ron.”
Bailey, who turned 54 on Wednesday, has a history of mental problems. He once burned down a house in Minnetonka because he believed that the CIA and FBI had planted bugs inside of the home. He was charged with arson and illegally possessing a firearm that was found in the home’s charred remains, but a court-appointed psychologist later deemed him mentally unfit to stand trial.
Bailey, who lived in an RV trailer on the building’s premises, was captured on surveillance camera going in and out of Housley’s apartment several times the day before the slaying, according to authorities.
Earlier in January, he was charged with fourth-degree assault after prosecutors say he twice punched a female staff member at the psychiatry unit at HCMC. He was released from custody on Jan. 9 after posting $20,000 bond and was supposed to appear in court for the charges on Tuesday.
For years, Housley lived in relative anonymity, running two digital companies out of his apartment in the 200 block of Lowry Avenue NE., according to court filings. In 1979 he shot and wounded two undercover police officers whom he mistook for burglars during a raid of his house.
Housley always maintained that he shot in self-defense during what he said he thought was a break-in at his south Minneapolis home.
The officers — David Mack and Robert Skomra, who eventually rose to the rank of inspector — survived, but the former was gravely injured, paralyzed and left unable to speak, and fell into a coma for several years. When Mack died in 1986, doctors determined that his death was caused by complications from the shooting.
Housley was convicted of first-degree aggravated assault in a 1980 trial, but the decision was later overturned by the state Supreme Court.
Housley made the news again in 1986, when he ran over the foot of a St. Louis Park police officer while attempting to steal a car, authorities said. Years later, the injured officer, Ward Dohman, was awarded $137,000 in damages by a Hennepin County jury, according to news reports from that time.
That wasn’t a side of Housley that Brandon Buckvold ever saw. The Housley he remembered was caring and compassionate, the kind of friend that you could always count on in tight spots, according to Buckvold. Housley loved to tinker with electronics, he said, having found steady work installing sound systems at “bars from Uptown to St. Paul that are probably wondering what happened and why their tech guy isn’t responding.
“He had nothing but love in his heart,” said Buckvold, 31, a family friend who attended high school with Housley’s younger brother.
He added that Housley left behind newborn twins — a boy and a girl — and various family members, who were struggling to accept his death.