A Maplewood teenager has been charged with killing one person and maiming another after a dispute over a woman escalated into death threats on social media.
After meeting in South St. Paul intending to fight on Thursday, Marcelino Santiago Lopez, 19, fired a shotgun at a group of unarmed people, killing 20-year-old Brandon Jose Nieves and hitting a 16-year-old in the chest, according to the criminal complaint filed in Dakota Countyon Friday. The second victim is in critical condition.
Lopez faces charges of second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault. He appeared in court Friday, where Judge Tim Wermager set unconditional bail at $1.5 million or $1 million with conditions.
“This appears to be another senseless act of domestic-related violence that has claimed one life and left another person seriously injured,” said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom in a statement. “Our sympathy is extended to family and friends of Brandon Nieves for their great loss, as is our hope for the recovery of the 16-year-old victim now in critical condition.”
According to the charges, Lopez had threatened to kill Nieves on social media after Nieves started dating Lopez’s ex-girlfriend.
At 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, they met in South St. Paul. Nieves and two others, none appearing armed, got out of the car. Lopez drove a short distance in his silver SUV, then stopped, got out with the shotgun and began firing, according to charges.
By the time police arrived, Nieves was dead.
Lopez called 911 and confessed to shooting two people, the complaint states. Police arrested him and found the shotgun in the vehicle.
Lopez has no criminal history. If convicted, the three felony charges could collectively carry nine to 120 years in prison, plus fines. He’s scheduled to appear in court April 24.