Charges: Man buying drugs shot seller in the head, left him in Inver Grove Heights snowbank

Gabriel Cruz was meeting up with Bryant Lutgens to buy methamphetamines when he fatally shot him and took off with his belongings, charges state.
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gabriel cruz

A Bloomington man looking to buy drugs shot another man in the head, leaving him in a snowbank in Inver Grove Heights and taking off with his belongings, charges say. 

Gabriel Alfonso Sanchez Cruz, 42, of Bloomington, is charged in Dakota County District Court with second-degree murder in the death of 39-year-old Bryant Lutgens of Burnsville.

Lutgens was found dead in a snowbank on the 1300 block of 60th Street West in Inver Grove Heights at about 8 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 1, police said. He'd been shot in the head. 

According to the criminal complaint, police responded to a report of a body in a snowbank and found a man later identified as Lutgens. He didn't have an ID or cellphone on him and there was no vehicle nearby, but police did notice tire tracks leading away from the area. 

A witness told police she last saw Lutgens at 10 p.m. on Jan. 31, the complaint says. He had stopped by her house in Bloomington, leaving soon after in a rental Jeep saying he needed to go pick up some money. She never heard from him again.

On Feb. 3, a second witness told police she was with Lutgens at about 9 p.m. on Jan. 31 when he dropped her off at Cruz's apartment, charges state. Cruz wasn't home, so they chatted on the phone and Cruz asked her if Lutgens had any methamphetamine. She put the two in touch with each other. 

When Cruz returned to his apartment at about 11:45 p.m. on Jan. 31, the witness said he was acting "off" and talking very fast, the complaint states. She asked him what was wrong and Cruz admitted he shot Lutgens, saying he met up with him and pulled a gun on him with the intention of robbing him. 

According to the witness, Cruz said they got into a struggle and Lutgens fell backward into a snowbank, which is when Cruz shot him in the head and then left with all his belongings, charges say.

Also on Feb. 3, the car rental company that owns the Jeep traced the vehicle to Minneapolis, the complaint says. Minneapolis police located the vehicle and attempted to stop it, but a "short pursuit" ensued during which a gun was thrown from the vehicle. Police recovered the weapon and found it to match the same type of gun used to kill Lutgens. 

Cruz, who was driving the Jeep, ended up crashing and he and two others in the vehicle fled on foot before Cruz was arrested.

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