A man charged with attempted murder for allegedly shooting a man who police say robbed him last fall is being looked at as a suspect in two other recent shootings, including an October homicide in north Minneapolis’ Shingle Creek neighborhood, according to recent court filings.
Detectives said that surveillance video shows Karul Brown firing shots at a van near the McDonald’s restaurant at 916 W. Broadway Av. on Oct. 27, hitting one man in the ear, the filings show. Police later learned that the shooting was in response to an earlier incident in which the van’s occupants had jumped and robbed Brown, 38.
Spent shell casings recovered from the scene matched those found at an Oct. 22 shooting in Brooklyn Center and the slaying of a Louisiana man on the morning of Oct. 28, police said.
But while detectives believe that they have enough evidence to tie the three shootings together, they can’t yet prove who pulled the trigger in each case.
On Oct. 28, police said that officers found Darren P. Watkins, 54, of LaPlace, La., with multiple gunshot wounds in an alley behind the 5200 block of James Avenue. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Witnesses reported seeing a suspect in a mustard yellow T-shirt getting into a small black vehicle; detectives later reviewed surveillance footage showing a black mid-to-late 2000s model Volkswagen Passat heading south down the alley shortly after shots were heard, before turning left onto N. 52nd Avenue, police said.
They said that the car, which was missing pieces of silver trim, matched the description of a vehicle into which Brown was seeing jumping after the shooting at the McDonald’s. It also resembled the 2007 Volkswagen Passat that Brown and 27-year-old Tyree Johnson were arrested in on Halloween, police said.
Detectives later obtained a search warrant for two cellphones found in the car at the time of their arrest.
Court records show that Brown is being held in the Hennepin County jail on six counts of attempted first-degree murder and a single count of illegal firearms possession in connection with the McDonald’s shooting, with an expected next court date of Jan. 10.
Johnson, who police say furnished Brown with the gun used in the Broadway shooting and served as his getaway driver, faces similar charges. Johnson’s next court date is scheduled for Friday.
Investigators tested three spent 9mm casings recovered from the homicide scene and found they were fired from the same gun that was used in the other two shootings, police said.
Johnson and Brown denied being involved in Watkins’ slaying, telling police that they were at home at the time of the shooting. Attempts to reach the court-appointed attorneys representing the two men were unsuccessful Monday.
On Oct. 27, about 19 hours before the homicide, police said that Brown was attacked outside of the McDonald’s near the Hawthorne Crossings strip mall by three men, who punched, kicked and stomped him in the head and body in a “brutal” assault that was captured on a nearby security camera. Sometime later, gunfire erupted in the same area.
A witness later identified Brown, who has a prosthetic leg and goes by the street name “Legs,” as the shooter, court filings show.
Two of the robbery suspects have since been charged.
RETRACTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly included a booking photo supplied by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office of Tyree D. Johnson, who was not involved in the crime. The Star Tribune regrets the error.