Men charged in shooting that shocked quiet Minnesota community

A woman was shot and left for dead by a member of a drug gang.
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Luis Alfredo Cortez Mendoza

Luis Alfredo Cortez Mendoza

The shooting of a woman who was left for dead in a quiet Minnesota township near Stillwater was gang-related.

That's according to charging documents issued against two men accused of being involved with the shooting, which saw the victim found by an Uber driver in the middle of the road at Saint Croix Trail North and 124th Street in the early hours of June 9.

The Uber driver initially thought he was seeing an animal in the street, but upon realizing it was a gunshot victim, he tried to call an ambulance and then put the woman into his vehicle when he couldn't get a signal, driving until he could alert the authorities.

She was taken to a hospital with gunshot wounds including one to her chest, and the last update about her condition listed her as being critical.

The man responsible for her shooting has been identified as Luis Alfredo Cortez Mendoza, 23, of St. Paul, who has been charged with attempted 1st-degree murder, attempted 2nd-degree murder, and kidnapping, all three of which were for the "benefit of a gang."

Mendoza is allegedly a member of the Surenos 13 gang along with Angel Ignacio Sardina-Padilla, 32, who is known as "Diablo" and has also been charged in connection with the shooting, but is currently on the run.

What happened?

The woman came to the men's attention when she bought a gun on June 8 for $400 from Padilla, with both Padilla and Mendoza delivering it to her at her home in St. Paul, with the woman paying $300 before telling them to come back for the rest.

When she woke up the next morning, the gun was missing from her nightstand, and she called Padilla to tell him.

Both Padilla and Mendoza turned up at her apartment on June 9, brandishing guns and demanding the return of the gun or their money.

Five people were in the apartment at the time, including one of the woman's roommates, and they were effectively held captive by Padilla – who the complaint notes was "in charge" – and Mendoza.

At one point, the pair threatened them with a metal tool they'd heated over a flame, before Padilla ordered that the woman go with the two of them.

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They drove around with her in the back of Mendoza's Audi TT all day, before Padilla ordered Mendoza to take her, which she told police she knew meant he was going to kill her.

She says she'd been given a sleeping pill earlier in the evening that caused her to fall asleep. And when she woke up Mendoza ordered her out of the vehicle, before firing three shots.

When questioned by police, Mendoza said Padilla had ordered him to kill the woman and had given him the gun. He said he feared he'd be killed himself if he didn't go through with it.

Mendoza was branded with a "13" tattoo by Padilla and other Surenos 13 gang members after the shooting, but was arrested on Saturday while driving his Audi TT in Minneapolis.

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