A man arrested in connection with the drive-by shooting death of a 2-year-old at a north Minneapolis intersection will be released from jail after prosecutors opted not to file charges against him Monday.
The 31-year-old man from Circle Pines had been arrested and booked into Hennepin County jail on Wednesday night. But after seeking an extension over the weekend to strengthen their case against the man, prosecutors determined they didn't have enough evidence to charge him in the death of Le'Vonte King Jason Jones, said Chuck Laszewski, a spokesman for the county attorney's office.
"As we sit here today, with our 4 o'clock deadline [by which to bring charges], we didn't have sufficient evidence to charge him," Laszewski said, adding that the case was still being "vigorously investigated."
The Star Tribune generally doesn't name suspects who haven't been charged. The man was expected to be released from jail Monday afternoon.
Le'Vonte was shot in the chest as he sat in his father's van July 8 at the intersection of Penn and Lowry avenues. A black Chevrolet Impala pulled up beside the van at the intersection and started shooting, police said. A bullet also grazed the leg of Le'Vonte's 15-month-old sister.
The shooting left residents and city officials at a loss, and sparked a renewed effort to end the street violence that has plagued the area the past few months. A motive remains unclear, though investigators are looking closely at whether the shooting was in retaliation for a previous incident.
Authorities say that Le'Vonte's father, Melvonte L. Peterson, 25, fired back at his attackers, before driving his children to a nearby hospital. Hours before Le'Vonte's funeral last week, Peterson was charged with illegally possessing a firearm and drive-by shooting, both felonies. He remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail.
Relatives insisted that Peterson, of Brooklyn Center, was just trying to defend himself and his children when he returned fire.
Authorities said that no one else has been arrested or charged in connection with the case.