The fatal shooting of a Woodbury teenager at a high school graduation party over the weekend was in response to the boy's stepfather rushing to the scene moments earlier with a gun and opening fire.
Keith Dawson, 35, of St. Paul, was charged Monday in Washington County District Court with drive-by shooting, assault with a dangerous weapon and illegal possession of a gun in connection with his role in the chain of events that left his 14-year-old stepson, Demaris Nathan Hobbs-Ekdahl, shot to death Saturday night in the 6100 block of Edgewood Avenue.
Dawson remains jailed without bail ahead of a court appearance Tuesday. Court records do not list an attorney for him.
Dawson was summoned to the scene by Hobbs-Ekdahl, of Maplewood, and his 16-year-old brother because the two teens "were having problems" at the party with two people, according to the criminal complaint.
The stepfather arrived in his SUV and shot at the teens' adversaries. Gunfire was returned, and Hobbs-Ekdahl was struck in the back while in a car, the charges read. Nearby houses were also hit by the gunfire that sent party guests fleeing.
Dawson drove Hobbs-Ekdahl to Regions Hospital, where the Tartan High School student was declared dead.
Questioned by police, Dawson said Hobbs-Ekdahl called him to say he and his brother were being robbed and needed help. He said he shot six or seven times at three people he thought were "messing with" his kids, the complaint quoted him as saying.
"A chance encounter resulting in a dispute leading to tragedy is no way to celebrate a graduation," Police Cmdr. John Altman said in a statement released soon after Dawson was charged. "This incident does not define a neighborhood or its residents, or our community at large."
The fatal shooting is the latest gun crime against children under 15 years old in the Twin Cities. In Minneapolis, Trinity Ottoson-Smith, 9, was shot May 15 and died two weeks later; Ladavionne Garrett Jr., 10, was shot April 30 and critically wounded; and Aniya Allen, 6, died May 19, two days after being shot.
Dawson's criminal history in Minnesota spans his entire adult life and includes a conviction in 2013 for first-degree burglary. That case made him ineligible to possess a gun.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482