Authorities say a St. Paul man fatally shot his partner of 10 years during a late-night argument at the couple's duplex.
Mark A. Bell Jr., 35, was charged in Ramsey County District Court Tuesday with two counts of second-degree murder. The criminal complaint alleges Bell fatally shot his longtime girlfriend, with whom he also has a 1-year-old child, during a dispute shortly after midnight on Jan. 22.
Officers arrived to the scene on the 40 block of Lyton Place to find the victim, 31-year-old Latifa Brown, lying on the ground near a minivan, covered in blood. They arrested Bell at the scene, with charges noting that while in the back of a squad car, he refused to answer questions about what happened but repeatedly asked, "Is she dead?"
Officers also found a handgun on the ground near the victim, and a handgun in the minivan. A trail of blood went from where Brown was found up to the duplex, where inside officers found blood on the floor and walls, as well as a shell casing, according to the complaint.
Brown died of a single gunshot wound to the head.
Accounts from neighbors and portions of video from a home surveillance camera provide some insight into what happened. According to the charges against Bell:
He, Brown and and a friend had been at Hoover's Pub prior to the shooting, with things at one point becoming contentious. They left, and Brown refused to get in the minivan, instead walking back to their home on Lyton Place.
Surveillance video shows Brown arrive first, followed by the minivan — with Bell then getting out of the vehicle and following Brown into the home. They then go out of view.
Multiple neighbors reported hearing a loud argument between Brown and Bell as well as a gunshot, with one capturing an audio recording. In it, Brown can be heard telling Bell to get away from her. Then, a single, loud gunshot, after which Brown's voice isn't heard again.
Within a few minutes of arriving home, the surveillance camera captured Bell "dragging [Brown] down the steps to the boulevard" while the friend followed, then helped Bell drag her to the minivan. Bell can also be seen lifting and dropping her body "in a rough manner."
The camera also captured Bell appearing to throw something in the van, then pacing while holding a handgun which he later tossed to the ground.
Bell, in an interview with police, said Brown had become "confrontational" since receiving a permit to carry recently, He also claimed he arrived to the home first after returning from the bar, and that while inside, she pulled the trigger of a gun while pointing it at him three times, but a bullet never fired.
When she raised the gun a fourth time, he pulled out a handgun he'd taken earlier from the home and fired a shot, but wasn't trying to hit her. After realizing what happened, he grabbed Brown and brought her outside to take her to the hospital.
Bell was "visibly upset" and crying during the interview.
Bell made his first court appearance Tuesday. An omnibus hearing is scheduled for Feb. 17.
You can also call the Day One Crisis Hotline at 1-866-223-1111.