A car crash Friday night escalated into shouting as both drivers got out of their vehicles.
Loud pops followed, sending people living nearby in St. Paul's Dayton's Bluff neighborhood outside to see what was happening.
Kimberly Lawler, a U.S. Army reservist, caught a glimpse of a man falling to the street in front of her house while someone fled in a pickup truck. She called 911 as she ran down her driveway.
Lawler applied pressure to the man's wounds and several bystanders tried to help as he slipped in and out of consciousness.
Despite their efforts, the man died at Regions Hospital, becoming the second man shot to death Friday night on the city's East Side.
The back-to-back shootings are a stark reminder of a record-breaking number of gun-related deaths in the capital city last year.
"Everything is changing," said Thomas Feist, who lives next to Lawler. "This used to be a real safe neighborhood."
Family and friends identified the victim as Douglas Lewis, 39, of St. Paul. The father of four had left a barbecue on the city's West Side and promised to return after picking up his car. But a short time later, he Facetimed a friend asking for help after a collision on U.S. Hwy. 61 left him stranded off Burns Avenue.
By the time she arrived, yellow police tape blanketed the area.
Investigators later determined that a man opened fire on Lewis following a verbal altercation. A 25-year-old Scott County man, who initially fled the scene, returned and surrendered to police. He remains jailed in Ramsey County pending charges. The Star Tribune does not typically name suspects before they are charged.
The man has a legal permit to carry, a law enforcement source confirmed. Lewis was unarmed, according to those who rendered aid.
Relatives described Lewis as a hardworking family man with a jolly spirit who excelled at spontaneous humor.
A Chicago native, Lewis followed his older sister, Valerie, to Minnesota about 16 years ago. Since then, he worked as a retail delivery driver for Amazon, DoorDash and 1-800-Got-Junk?
"I have no idea what led up to this," said Valerie Lewis. "He always had a big ol' smile. ... He made me feel so safe and protected."
Around 50 mourners gathered on the Burns Avenue scenic overlook Sunday afternoon for a memorial balloon release in Lewis' honor. Friends and family embraced as they remembered a beloved uncle and father who sometimes acted tough but was secretly "a big teddy bear."
"I wish I could've said goodbye," said an emotional Christine Hicks, his girlfriend of 15 years.
Just 10 minutes before Lewis was shot, a man was fatally shot inside an Arco gas station 2½ miles north in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood. He died inside the store and has not yet been identified.
A 23-year-old suspect was arrested at his parents' house later that night and remains jailed pending charges.
Two other shootings left two women hospitalized with gunshot wounds to the leg in separate incidents Friday and Saturday night.
Even a 2003 deployment overseas couldn't prepare Lawler for what she believes was random, senseless violence sparked by a bout of road rage.
"I've been to Iraq and I've seen bodies. But this …" she paused Saturday, staring at the stained pavement where she tried to save a stranger's life the night before. "I had to come home to see this."
After a mostly sleepless night, she pulled some scrap materials from her garage and fashioned a simple wooden cross at the end of her driveway. On Sunday, relatives stopped by to grieve, placing mementos around the cross and flowers at its base.
"I'm not gonna let somebody get shot down in front of me without marking it," Lawler said. "Using [a gun] is the easy part. Try not to use it for a change."
Liz Sawyer • 612-673-4648