Three men were charged Friday with two counts each of second-degree murder in the deaths of two men at the Midway Motel on Snelling Avenue N. in St. Paul earlier this week.

Cass Cordel Oneal, of St. Paul, is the accused shooter in the deaths of Nicholas Bennett Tousley, 30, and Dominque Charles Moss, 23. The men bled to death near the motel from gunshot wounds to the back.

Oneal faces a third felony charge for ineligible possession of a firearm because he has prior felony convictions.

Oneal, Ronald Lee Conway and Eric John Benner, who was previously charged with robbery, all are from St. Paul. Oneal is 31. Benner and Conway are 30. All three are in custody and appeared for the first time on these charges Friday in Ramsey County District Court.

Prosecutors said they would seek bail of $1.5 million for Oneal, $1 million for Conway and $100,000 for Benner. Benner’s and Oneal’s families declined to comment at the first appearance. Moss’ mother confronted Benner’s family in the hall and shouted, “Your son killed my son!” Moss’ family declined to comment.

According to the complaint, Benner told police that Tousley was a methamphetamine supplier and Conway a dealer. Benner said that Conway claimed Tousley had stolen $1,000 from him so they went to the motel to collect the money.

Benner said he knocked on the door to room 15 where Tousley and others allegedly were dealing, while the others hid around the corner. When the door opened, Benner told police that the other men converged on the door and he heard shots but didn’t know who had fired them.

Police said their investigation revealed that Moss had left, but then returned to the room to find a crowd of people. When Moss told the crowd to leave, someone pushed him into the room and shot him, police said.

Moss stumbled out of the room and collapsed in a parking lot. Tousley was found on a nearby roadway.

Conway told police that a man known as “Black” fired a gun, and police identified Oneal from a cellphone number on Conway’s phone. Police searched Oneal’s home and found the distinctive white striped shirt worn by the shooter in a surveillance video as well as a .357-caliber revolver stolen from Coon Rapids.

Oneal told police that he was at the motel on Tuesday, the day of the shootings, but that he had no involvement with the fatal shootings. He has felony convictions for drug-dealing, motor vehicle theft, assault and domestic assault.

Benner admitted to driving the men to the motel and fleeing in his car.

 

Twitter: @rochelleolson