New Brighton man charged with murder after deer-related feud

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A New Brighton man who is accused of shooting and killing his neighbor and injuring his neighbor's girlfriend on Monday has been formally charged, according to a criminal complaint.

Neal Zumberge was charged with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder on Wednesday.

Media reports have identified the victims as Todd G. Stevens and his girlfriend, Jennifer Damerow-Cleven. The two live across the street from Zumberge on Knollwood Drive in New Brighton.

Neal Zumberge told investigators that he's had a "tumultuous relationship" with Stevens for 15 years, the complaint says. The ongoing feud between the two men was over feeding deer, reports say.

The complaint says Neal Zumberge shot and killed Stevens and injured Damerow-Cleven on Monday after Damerow-Cleven called police to arrest the suspect's son.

The complaint says that on April 29 Neal Zumberge's son, Jacob Zumberge, had threatened to burn down Stevens' house because he claimed the couple caused his father to get Lyme disease, which is caused by deer-borne ticks, because they feed the deer in their yard.

Jacob Zumberge was wanted by Spring Lake Park police for making the threats, and on Monday, when Damerow-Cleven saw Jacob Zumberge at a local restaurant, she called police and he was arrested.

He's currently in jail and was charged Wednesday with making terroristic threats and assault, according to the Anoka County Sheriff's website.

The shooting took place a few hours after Jacob Zumberge was arrested.

Damerow-Cleven got home Monday evening and was met by Neal Zumberge's wife, Paula Anne Zumberge. She confronted Damerow-Cleven in her front yard saying, "You [expletive] [expletive], you put my son in jail," the complaint says.

That's when Stevens went outside. Neal Zumberge told investigators he had crawled out an egress window in his basement.

Neal Zumberge then started shooting at his neighbors with his 12-gauge, semi-automatic shotgun, the complaint says. The document says his wife was encouraging him to continue shooting at them.

Stevens was killed, and Damerow-Cleven, who was shot twice, went in her home and called police. When they arrived, Damerow-Cleven said, "He shot us, I knew he was going to do this!" and she identified the shooter as Neal Zumberge, the complaint says.

Neal Zumberge admitted to shooting Stevens, but said he didn't intend to shoot Damerow-Cleven. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner says Stevens died from shotgun wounds to his head, chest, abdomen and extremities, the complaint says.

Police found four spent 12-gauge shotgun shells near the front door of the victim's home. Police also noted there was shotgun damage to the front door, the complaint says.

The ongoing feud between the neighbors was known to police and they had been called to their homes several times over the years. Damerow-Cleven also had an active restraining order against Neal Zumberge, the Star Tribune says, which included references to him leaving dead animals in their yard and threats to kill deer at their deer feeder.

Neighbors said Neal Zumberge was outspoken about his disdain for feeding deer.

In 2012, he sent a letter to his neighbors warning them of the risks that come with feeding deer. He didn't sign the letter, but he included a page from his medical chart, which had his name, and explained that he and his dog were treated for Lyme disease, the newspaper says.

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