St. Paul authorities made two more arrests and charged one man with robbery in the shooting deaths of two men outside the Midway Motel earlier this week in an altercation that allegedly began over drug debt.
Police identified the victims as Nicholas Bennett Tousley, 30, and Dominque Charles Moss, 23. Both men bled to death at the scene from gunshot wounds to the back, police said. Their deaths were the city's second and third homicides of the year.
Eric J. Benner, 30, of St. Paul, was arrested in connection with the twin slaying around 10 a.m. Wednesday in the area of Payne and Rose avenues, according to Ramsey County jail records. Hours later, authorities arrested another St. Paul man, age 30, at police headquarters.
A third suspect, believed to be the shooter, was also taken into custody after police searched his St. Paul residence, according to the criminal complaint.
Authorities located a revolver thought to be the murder weapon, along with clothes matching the shooter's on motel video surveillance.
Those men are awaiting charges. The Star Tribune generally doesn't name suspects who haven't been charged.
Benner was charged Thursday afternoon with one count each of aggravated robbery and simple robbery — both felonies.
According to the complaint, gunfire erupted around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday after one of the victims, Moss, returned to the motel room he'd rented to find a large group of people hanging out inside. When Moss told the visitors to leave, he was shoved inside and shot.
Responding officers reportedly found the two victims, both mortally wounded, with Moss lying in the parking lot of a nearby business and Tousley on the Snelling Avenue off-ramp to W. Pierce Butler Route.
Security footage shows three men fleeing the scene in a black Lexus, with the shooter wearing a distinctive white long-sleeve shirt with a diagonal black stripe and patches on the chest and right sleeve.
Witnesses told police the getaway car belonged to Benner.
In an interview with police, Benner said the altercation began because Tousley had stolen $1,000 from his friend — who is now in custody.
Benner accused Tousley of dealing methamphetamine out of the room and taking his friend's cut of the profit earlier in the day, according to the complaint.
He admitted to driving back to the motel so his friend "could collect his money," charges state. Shots rang out as they converged on the room, then the men fled the scene in his car, Benner told police.
Benner's associates were arrested hours later.
Benner will remain jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail. His first court appearance will be Friday afternoon.
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