9/27/2010: Barker faces attempted murder charge in Zumbrota shootingA Chicago man was charged Monday with attempted murder and another suspect is being held in Goodhue County custody after a shooting in Zumbrota last week that left a Red Wing man in critical condition.
A Chicago man was charged Monday with attempted murder and another suspect is being held in Goodhue County custody after a shooting in Zumbrota last week that left a Red Wing man in critical condition.
Based on witness testimony and surveillance footage, police have identified Demarcus Barker, 31, of Chicago, as the man responsible for the Sept. 23 shooting of Willie Lee Ricks, Jr., 30, of Red Wing outside the southern location of Casey’s General Store in Zumbrota.
First District Court Judge Kevin Mark set bail at $1 million at a hearing in Red Wing on Monday. Prosecuting attorney Chris Schrader recommended that bail be set even higher at $1.5 million, given the alleged intent of the shooting.
“An inch the other way, your honor, and we would not be talking about attempted murder. We’d be talking about something different,” he said.
Ricks is in intensive care at Region’s Hospital, where he remains in critical condition with a bullet wound to the chest, according to a criminal complaint released Monday by Goodhue County prosecutors.
Barker, a convicted felon, was initially identified as Nathan Triplett, a name he allegedly gave arresting authorities. He faces six criminal charges, including attempted murder, illegal possession of a firearm and attempted robbery.
He has prior convictions of manufacturing cannabis, aggravated battery of a police officer and possession of a controlled substance.
The other suspect, Ernest Thomas, 31, of Rochester, was not charged Monday. Mark ordered Monday that he be held in Goodhue County custody pending an outstanding Olmstead County warrant for failure to pay child support.
Mark set Barker's next court date for Oct. 12.
Meeting ends violently
More details emerged Monday in the Sept. 23 shooting as Goodhue County prosecutors released their criminal complaint against Barker.
The complaint relies on the accounts of three adult witnesses and one child witness, a photograph taken by a witness, and surveillance footage from the 1390 S Main St. location of Casey’s General Store.
According to the complaint:
On Sept. 23, Ricks and two female witnesses were driving toward Rochester in a red 1999 Mercury van when Ricks received a call on his cell phone, according to witness testimony from the female driver.
Later, as the van approached Zumbrota, the female passenger requested to stop at a gas station so that she could use the restroom. Ricks suggested the south location of Casey’s General Store.
Surveillance footage from Casey’s reviewed by a Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office investigator showed that prior to the van’s arrival at the store, a black male wearing jeans, a dark jacket and a dark hat with a white bill went inside and stood near the entrance.
When the van arrived and parked outside, the man left the store and walked to its passenger side. He appeared to open the passenger door when the female passenger got out of the vehicle and went into the store.
The man then walked around the vehicle and attempted to open the rear passenger door. Ricks then stepped outside the vehicle, and the two were seen standing next to each other for a short amount of time before re-entering the vehicle.
The female driver reported to police that the man then pointed a silver-colored handgun at her.
Footage shows her leaving the vehicle and entering the store, where she stood near the entrance with the female passenger.
Officers later interviewed a child witness, who said he was in a neighboring car listening to music as his mother went inside to use the restroom. The child said he saw the minivan shake back and forth before hearing two or three “metal on metal” sounds.
The passenger door opened and the child said he saw two black males fighting. He said a man wearing a diamond earring and a black hooded jacket left the vehicle with a silver semi-automatic handgun in his hand.
After the man fled the scene, the female driver and passenger returned to the van, where they asked a still-conscious Ricks what had happened. He said the man had tried to rob him but did not get anything. He then reportedly lost consciousness.
The two drove away from the scene and parked at Super America, where they dialed 911.
Ricks was transferred by Zumbrota Ambulance and later airlifted to Region's Hospital in St. Paul, where he was put into intensive care. Medical examiners there found that one bullet had reportedly entered Rick's chest and exited by his lower kidney. They said they would not be able to remove another bullet lodged in his hip.
A suspicious vehicle
After arriving on the scene, Zumbrota Police officer Gary Schroeder and Goodhue County Deputy Matt Hoekstra conducted a K-9 search for the suspect.
They were led to 13th St. West, where a woman said she had seen a green Dodge Intrepid with two black males inside pull up and park before leaving and returning with just one man inside. The man, who was reportedly wearing a black hooded jacket, walked up the street in the direction of the nearby Casey’s General Store.
The woman took a picture of the vehicle, but did not witness it pull away. Reviewing the picture, Officer Schroeder, determined the first five characters of the license plate to be “MSZ-44."
After calling dispatch, he learned that two Minnesota State Troopers were following a green Dodge Intrepid with license plate number “MSZ-442.” The troopers stopped the vehicle and arrested the suspects, later identified as Demarcus Barker and Ernest Thomas.
The troopers reported seeing a black hat on the back seat of the vehicle and a dark-colored jacket on the floor. Officials at the Goodhue County Adult Detention Center reportedly confiscated a diamond earring from Barker.
In an interview with Goodhue County investigators, Ernest Thomas said he and Barker were headed from Rochester to the Twin Cities when they became lost in the flooding that detoured roads across the region that day.
He said that that they later stopped at Casey’s General Store, where Barker went inside to buy cigarettes. When asked how long Barker was in the store, Thomas asked the investigators if Barker robbed the store. He then refused to answer any more questions.
The driver of the van later identified Barker through a one-way glass as the man who had pointed a gun at her and entered the vehicle with Ricks.
The complaint does not state whether Barker made any statements upon questioning.