Prosecutors have lodged murder charges against a man thought to have fired the fatal shots in the death of another man at George Floyd Square in south Minneapolis earlier this month.
Shantaello Christianson faces charges of second-degree murder, first-degree riot and illegal possession of a firearm in the March 6 fatal shooting of 30-year-old Imez Wright outside of Cup Foods, 3759 S. Chicago Avenue. Wright, who worked for a community group that provided security in the area, died at a nearby hospital after being struck multiple times in the chest and hand, authorities said.
The charges come five days after Christianson and his wife were arrested on March 10 in Brooklyn Center, according to a criminal complain filed Monday in Hennepin County District court. The couple were both arrested.
Authorities announced the arrests at a news conference later that day, but initially refused to provide any further details, citing an "extremely active" investigation.
The complaint says that Wright was hanging outside Cup Foods when surveillance video captured Christianson pulling up in a sport utility vehicle. A man, later identified as a relative of Christianson's wife, is then seen on video getting out and getting into an argument with Wright, according to the complaint.
At some point, Christianson got out and fired several shots at Wright, before fleeing as several bystanders began firing at the vehicle, the complaint says. Police interviewed several witnesses at the scene, it said.
Prosecutors said that Wright and Christianson were both members of the Rolling 30s Bloods, several members of which had had a falling out; the nature of the disagreement was unclear.
Investigators tracked Christianson and his wife to a hotel in Brooklyn Center after determining that the SUV was registered to his wife. After their arrest, authorities said they recovered two guns, a Glock 9mm handgun and an "AR-15 style" rifle.
Friends and colleagues said Wright worked for Change Inc., where he was part of a team of 10 social service staffers who mentor Black youth in St. Paul and was training to be a mental health practitioner.
After a turbulent childhood and early adulthood — MPD records show that he was wounded in a shooting in April 2017 — friends said that Wright seemed to be turning a corner and was working with at-risk youths to help steer them from gangs and drugs. One of his former supervisors at Agape movement, a community protection program for the George Floyd Square area, told the Star Tribune that Wright was passionate about changing his life.
Christianson, 31, remained jailed on $1 million bond pending his initial court appearance Tuesday. He didn't have an attorney listed in court records as of Monday afternoon.
Cup Foods, the convenience store where the shooting happened, was thrust into the international spotlight last year because of the killing of George Floyd, and in the ensuing months the surrounding area has turned into a memorial for Floyd and other victims of police violence. City officials recently announced they will not attempt to reopen the intersection during the ongoing murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with Floyd's death, in response to concerns from some neighbors and business owners.
Libor Jany • 612-673-4064 Twitter: @StribJany