A 16-year-old boy has pleaded guilty to stealing a vehicle that resulted in the death of a dog and to an unrelated shooting outside a recreation center in St. Paul two months prior.
The St. Paul Police Department said Tuesday investigators identified and arrested the teenager in connection to the two cases.
The teenager is accused of stealing an SUV near Payne and Sims avenues in St. Paul on July 24. Inside, was GoGo, a German shepherd-husky mix.
GoGo was found dead in the vehicle on July 27, three days later, about 4 miles west of where the SUV was taken.
He is also accused of pulling the trigger in a shooting outside the Frogtown Recreation Center on the night of May 20 in which he and a 14-year-old were injured.
The teenager was charged with theft and animal cruelty in connection to the July 24 incident. He was charged with second-degree assault in connection to the May 20 shooting. He pleaded guilty in both cases on Aug. 27.
GoGo died after being left in stolen SUV
According to the theft and animal cruelty charges, a St. Paul woman left her dog GoGo in her SUV — the vehicle was on with the air conditioner running — when she went into Hamburguesa El Gordo on July 24.
Surveillance video appeared to show someone getting out of a van and into the SUV, driving off with it, charges state.
At about 1:43 p.m. on July 27, a witness reported seeing the SUV parked on Ryde Street. Surveillance video showed the vehicle being dropped off on Ryde Street at 9:06 p.m., with the driver getting in another vehicle and leaving, charges state.
An officer responded and saw GoGo inside. He was dead.
The University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory determined GoGo died from heatstroke from being inside the SUV, adding "It is considered highly likely that the infliction of these injures caused suffering," charges state. It was 92 degrees in St. Paul on July 24.
Investigators found the teenager's fingerprint on the interior left front window.
The teenager told investigators on Aug. 26 that he didn't know anything about the vehicle and had never seen the dog. After police said his fingerprint was found inside the car, the teenager said he was walking down the street and saw the SUV. He opened the door and then shut it because the dog was in the back and it looked "ready to die because it was hot."
Video of the theft showed no one but the person who took the SUV approached the vehicle.
The teenager previously pled guilty to motor vehicle theft in Ramsey County on Feb. 20, 2020, charges state. And there are active warrants for him in Washington and Hennepin counties related to motor vehicle theft.
2 teens hurt in St. Paul shooting
According to the juvenile petition charging the teenager with assault, police responded to the Frogtown Recreation Center at 8:34 p.m. on May 20 on a report of a shooting.
When police arrived, about 20 people were in the street and a "young juvenile" (the 14-year-old) was on the ground in the middle of the road. He had been shot in the leg and was taken to Regions Hospital.
Later that day, the 16-year-old who has been charged arrived at Regions Hospital with two gunshot wounds to his calf. He was not cooperative and refused to tell police how he was shot, saying he didn't see or hear anything, the petition says.
His mom, who had dropped him off, told police he'd left her home to go to the victim's house near the recreation center and then got a call from her son saying he'd been shot, the petition states.
Investigators watched video of the incident, which showed two males at the recreation center walking near the playground toward a group of five juveniles. They exchanged words and then the group of five walked away.
One of the males in the group of two, later identified as a 15-year-old, pulled out a gun and shot toward the group, hitting the 14-year-old. Then someone in the group of five fired toward the 15-year-old, charges state.
"The video also showed several school-age children and a few teenagers playing at the playground. These people were observed 'scrambling' to avoid the gunfire," the petition says.
An investigator who watched the video recognized the teenager who shot back at the group of two as the 16-year-old suspect, with charges noting he was wearing the same clothing as the person in the video.
Investigators arrested and interviewed the 15-year-old. He admitted he shot at the group, saying he shot first because someone in the group had a gun. He said he shot "the two that went to the hospital." He pleaded guilty and has been adjudicated delinquent of second-degree assault.
Note: Some of the details provided in this story are based on the law enforcement's latest version of events, and may be subject to change.