What started as a minor traffic incident escalated into a shooting that left a 39-year-old motorist from St. Paul dead.
Douglas Cornelius Lewis died at Regions Hospital after he was shot on the 1300 block of Burns Avenue around 9:30 p.m. Friday, despite the aid of Good Samaritans at the scene.
Charged with his murder is Anthony Trifiletti, 24, of Watertown, who got into a verbal altercation with Lewis after Trifiletti's truck was bumped from behind by Lewis' vehicle as he took a right turn.
Trifiletti claimed to police that Lewis had started yelling at him after they pulled to the side of the road following the collision, and claimed he feared Lewis might be going for a weapon so told his friends – who were in another truck – to leave.
Trifiletti, who has a permit to carry, said Lewis "advanced" on his and "put his hand underneath his shirt near his waistband," prompting Trifiletti to pull out his gun and fire several shots.
Lewis was later found to be unarmed by police and several witnesses who stopped to help with first aid after he was shot.
One of the witnesses said she saw 2 men arguing by the road with a silver car parked 50 feet behind a red pickup truck.
The witness says "Trifiletti ran to his pickup and grabbed a handgun while DL ran to the silver car. Trifiletti let off shots and DL fell to the ground."
The witness "did not see anything in DL’s hands," and that the two men were about 10 feet apart when the shooting happened.
When interviewed by police, Trifiletti said that Lewis' Ford had collided with his truck when he changed lane, and that they initially argued about insurance before getting back into their respective vehicles.
During the initial argument, Lewis allegedly said he was "G.D." and mentioned "part of a gang," though Trifiletti said he didn't know what the reference was to.
Per the criminal complaint, Trifiletti told police the following:
"Trifiletti retrieved his Sig Sauer 9mm handgun from his truck and put it in his waistband holster. Trifiletti told his friends to get the f*** out of there and hopped into his truck. DL hopped into his car. Trifiletti put the truck in drive as DL pulled away and he followed DL unintentionally. DL threw the Ford in park and got out of his car. Trifiletti opened his door and got out. When DL put his hand beneath his shirt, Trifiletti drew his weapon and fired 3-4 times. Trifiletti said he thought he was going to die and was afraid for his life. He got back into his truck, turned around, and left in case he hadn’t extinguished the threat. Trifiletti called his father and told him what had happened. His father told Trifiletti to return to the scene and he did so."