A St. Paul teenager was charged Thursday with second-degree murder for allegedly shooting a 15-year-old boy at a downtown Minneapolis light-rail transit station Tuesday as the unarmed victim had both hands raised.
Tashawn C. Powell, 17, was charged in Hennepin County District Court by juvenile petition, which noted that prosecutors intend to have the case moved to adult court. The brazen shooting, which occurred around 5:30 p.m., added to worries about crime in the city's downtown core.
The 15-year-old was identified by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office late Thursday afternoon as Fred Ulysses Walker and ruled that a gunshot to the chest killed him.
In a virtual court appearance Thursday afternoon, prosecutor Raina Urton said Powell is a danger to the public and should remain in custody because the shooting was on a weekday in a public place, and clearly captured on surveillance video. Walker can be seen placing his hands in the air before Powell shoots him from just a few feet away.
"We lost one young, very young life as a result of this incident, and we are quite lucky that there weren't more," Urton said. "We shouldn't have to tolerate this kind of violence in our community. The people who are relying on public transit ... shouldn't have to worry about catching a stray bullet on the way home from work."
Judge Todd Fellman said that because Powell was on probation for a gun case at the time of the shooting — for which he had four failed court appearances— he should remain detained.
Fellman also found probable cause for ordering an adult certification study and a psychological evaluation.
Powell's attorney, Tracy Reid, asked the court to consider electronic home monitoring, but if kept in custody, she requested that Powell be exposed to sunlight. Reid said over the past six months, juveniles in the detention center have seen sunlight two times total.
"That is inhumane," Reid said. "It is a basic condition that children should be afforded who are detained in Hennepin County, your honor."
Fellman said he can't order outside time but will order that Powell have recreation.
The charging document did not offer a motive for the shooting.
Several observers tuned into the Zoom hearing, including Walker's mother, who was in tears. Powell's mother was also present.
Metro Transit video surveillance captured the shooting, according to the court filing. Powell was on the train when it pulled into the Nicollet Mall station. Walker stepped onto the platform holding only a cigarette in one hand, the filing continued.
Powell stared down Walker through a train window before pointing a handgun at the 15-year-old, who raised both hands "in the air showing that he is unarmed."
Powell opened fire and hit Walker in the upper left chest from a few feet away. Powell got off the train and ran.
According to the court document:
Officers were called to the platform along 5th Street west of Nicollet Mall about 5:30 p.m. on a report of shots fired.
A bystander and transit police provided aid to Walker before paramedics took over and declared him dead at the scene.
A woman nearby who said she heard the gunfire said it appeared that the two teens knew each other.
Transit security video allowed police to build a description of the shooter. That information led to police learning that Powell had boarded a Metro Transit bus. The driver told police that the teenager got off the bus on Hennepin Avenue and then started walking toward SE. Main Street.
Police arrested Powell and seized from him a handgun with an extended magazine holding 15 rounds. Powell allegedly admitted to police that he shot Walker.
There have been 56 homicides this year in Minneapolis, according to the Star Tribune database. That's the same number at this time last year in the city.
Powell's next court appearance is Tuesday.