Two 18-year-olds rob peer in St. Anthony, allegedly at gunpoint

St. Anthony Village police responded to the report of an armed robbery the evening of March 29, after a young man was allegedly held at gunpoint by two 18-year-old male acquaintances inside their car.

According to police, officers were able to respond just minutes after the 19-year-old victim was robbed around 9:45 p.m. on the 3500 block of Coolidge Street.  

When officers arrived to the scene, the suspects had already fled in their white Pontiac Grand Prix, but the victim, who police recognized, was found with a red mark on his left temple and bleeding from his nose, injuries he allegedly sustained when one of his assailants struck him with closed fists and a pistol, he claimed.

 

Social media helps identify suspects

 According to the report, after the victim was hit, he ran to a nearby home and, according to the homeowner, “barged in, clearly upset,” claiming he was robbed. 

But the homeowner pushed the 19-year-old back out, offering to call the police on his behalf. 

In an interview with police, the homeowner told officers that he had not witnessed the altercation, but had heard the commotion outside his house. 

After speaking with the victim, police were able to identify the two suspects as Taylor Caprice Martin and John Eddie Morgan Jr. of Fridley, using social media sites such as YouTube and Facebook.

Police put out a KOPS alert for the two men and their described car, which was white with a black front bumper, according to the report.

The suspects were found and arrested in Fridley later the same night, and have been charged with second-degree assault.  

According to the criminal complaint, the victim said that Martin and Morgan picked him up from his home in Fridley in their vehicle and drove in the direction of New Brighton, but they allegedly pulled the vehicle over at a random spot on Coolidge Street in St. Anthony, and the driver — Martin — exited the car, opened the back passenger door and started punching the victim. 

Then, Morgan reportedly produced a handgun, cocked it and pointed it at the victim’s head. He allegedly said, “Empty your pockets or I’m gonna kill you,” according to the police report. 

In the end, the victim said the two suspects stole the “change in his pockets,” his belt, phone, watch, and Air Jordan sneakers. They then asked him to get out of the car, which he did. They drove away and the victim sought help from the nearby homeowner. 

 

Victim robbed four times

The victim reportedly said he had known one of the suspects “since they were kids.”

After conducting interviews, and after the victim declined medical attention, police transported him to his home in Fridley. While driving the victim to his house, he told an officer that “this was the fourth time he had been robbed in the last month,” according to the criminal complaint. 

When the officer questioned him about that comment, the victim denied that any of the robberies were related to illegal drugs or narcotics or sales thereof, but stated that he usually had a large amount of cash on him from his job. 

When St. Anthony police contacted Fridley police, they discovered that the victim’s father had reported him as a missing person. 

 

The suspects’ story

When Fridley police located the 18-year-old suspects, they transported them back to St. Anthony for interviews at the police department. 

According to Martin, who admitted to smoking marijuana before the incident, the whole situation did involve illegal drugs, as he and Morgan allegedly picked the victim up to buy 2mg Xanax pills off him for $5 per tablet. Martin said that during a discussion in the car, the victim allegedly raised the amount to $7 per pill against their prior agreement, and the three young men began haggling over the price. 

The argument turned physical, Martin said in the report, when he punched the victim in the face twice with a closed fist. Then all three occupants allegedly exited the car and continued to tussle over the small bag of pills, “each pulling the baggy,” the report reads, until it “split open and the Xanax fell on the pavement.” 

After that, Martin claimed that he and Morgan left the scene quickly, because they realized that residents might be calling the police. 

Martin stated he did not have possession of a gun and had not threatened to kill the victim. According to the report, he said “there was no mention of a gun and that he was unaware of any gun in his vehicle.” Martin said that the victim was fabricating this version of the events.

He also stated that they did not steal anything from the victim.

Police then asked why the victim was missing his shoes. 

According to the report, Martin laughed after the question and “could not elaborate or provide any explanation,” police wrote in the report. 

Morgan was interviewed separately, and according to police, his description of the events basically corroborated Martin’s.

 

Finding a gun

Martin lives with his mother, and she gave police permission to search her home. Officers did not locate the listed stolen items when searching the home, however, they did find a gun that matched the description the victim provided.

Martin’s mother said it was likely that Martin’s fingerprints would be on the gun, as he had touched it in the past, but she told police that under no circumstances should Morgan’s fingerprints appear on the gun. 

Morgan was the one the victim claimed held the gun.

The gun is being analyzed for fingerprints and traces of DNA, according to police. 

Martin’s mother also claimed that the victim had allegedly robbed her son in their home at one point in the past, and that he was “known to sell drugs.”

Martin and Morgan were both arrested and transported to the Hennepin County Jail on charges of assault in the second-degree. 

Police met with both men separately the next day at the Hennepin County Jail to collect additional evidence, such as DNA samples, for further investigation. 

Police were also given a tip March 31 about a Facebook posting purportedly written by the victim under a pseudonym. According to police, the message is about the altercation and the arrests of Martin and Morgan. The post includes racial slurs and name-calling, and boasts about the outcome of the incident.  

 

Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815. Follow him at twitter.com/JPooleNews.

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