A 25-year-old White Bear Lake man exchanged words with a rival at a Minneapolis bar Nov. 1 shortly before shooting up his vehicle in St. Paul, killing the driver and injuring his wife, according to murder charges filed Thursday.
Darwin E. Anderson was charged in Ramsey County District Court with second-degree murder and attempted murder in the death of 32-year-old David D. Lee, of Oakdale, who was gunned down in the city's Highland Park neighborhood last fall while sitting beside his wife. Anderson remains jailed on $2 million bail.
Upon his New Year's Day arrest, he denied all involvement in the crime.
"A lot of work went into solving this case," St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said in a statement. "It's a testament to the tenacious effort of our homicide investigators and partnerships with the Minneapolis Police Department and the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office."
Officers responded to the scene on the 1300 block of Davern Street around 2:15 a.m. on Nov. 1 after Lee's wife called 911. They found her in an SUV with a gunshot wound to the thigh and her husband dead in the driver's seat.
According to the criminal complaint:
Lee, his wife and a cousin went to Broadway Pub and Grille, known as 200 Club, in north Minneapolis that night, where Lee reportedly engaged in a tense conversation with an unknown man. After things calmed down, the trio left in an SUV to drop off the cousin in St. Paul.
Security cameras at the bar captured Anderson arriving at the bar minutes after the group that night. Witnesses later told police that Anderson said he was "beefing" with Lee and was "going to get him," according to the complaint.
He rushed out the door after them, following their vehicle in his minivan at a high rate of speed.
Outside the cousin's apartment, shots rang out from an unknown direction. Lee's wife, Jasmine Tipton-Lee, realized her husband was injured and ducked down to press on the gas pedals with her hands, charges said. The vehicle crashed into two parked cars nearby.
A volley of bullets struck Lee four times, including to his head and chest. Investigators recovered seven 9mm casings at the scene and two spent bullets in the vehicle.
Surveillance cameras captured Anderson's minivan behind Lee's SUV, as well as the vehicle pulling away several minutes later. Bar security footage caught him returning to the 200 Club about 30 minutes later to change cars. Cell towers also pinged his phone in the area of the crime scene.
Anderson has two previous felony convictions, one for drugs and another for illegal possession of a firearm.
Tipton-Lee told the Star Tribune that a detective called to inform her of the arrest, saying that there was an indication that Anderson had previously robbed her husband.
"It just adds insult to injury," she said, sobbing over the phone. "You already robbed him and took his money that he worked hard for to provide for me and my kids, and then you decide to kill him … it's a low blow."
She described Lee as a hardworking family man who gave back to the community by working with young people in public schools, coaching basketball and North High School baseball.
Lee also helped raise her five children from a previous relationship and the four children they had together, who are under age 8.
Although the arrest provides some closure, Tipton-Lee called it bittersweet because it won't bring her husband back.
"There's always going to be a void in my home," she said. "There's always going to be a void in my heart."