Man was shooting at rival gang member when grandmother was struck, charges say

The grandmother was not the intended target, authorities say.
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A man is charged with fatally shooting a Minneapolis grandmother who was sitting in her minivan with her granddaughter.

Joshua Chiazor Ezeka, 20, was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder nearly eight months after Birdell Beeks' May 26, 2016, death, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.

Prosecutors say Ezeka, who associates with street gangs, was acting on a tip that a rival gang member was approaching the area of 21st St. and Penn Ave. N. in a car.

Ezeka was about 30 yards from the car when he started shooting, hitting the rival gang member's vehicle, as well as Beeks' car, charges say. Beeks was taken to the hospital where she died, and Ezeka fled the scene.

Beeks was a well-known member of the community. Her death sparked outrage, a call to end gang violence, and a $10,000 reward for information. And after months of investigating, Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau said at a news conference Monday "there's no doubt" they have the right person in custody.

But, Harteau added, it's still an "active and ongoing investigation." She said they still need to talk to everyone who witnessed the event, but many witnesses have expressed fear of retaliation.

Few other details about the case have been released because of that, police said at the news conference. The Hennepin County Attorney's Office notes that forensic scientists "are continuing their search for evidence."

Here's the Minneapolis Police Department's news conference from Monday:

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