Updated at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18Four metro-area residents are charged in connection with the shooting death of a Burnsville man found dead in a snowbank in Inver Grove Heights earlier this month.
A nationwide arrest warrant has been issued for Jason R. Beck of New Prague, according to the Star Tribune, in connection with a second-degree murder charge.
Authorities allege Gabriel Alfonso Sanchez Cruz, 42, of Minneapolis, fired the fatal shot that killed Bryant Jon Lutgens; Cruz is charged with second-degree murder in Dakota County District Court.
According to the criminal complaint, a witness told investigators she’d put Cruz and Lutgens in touch the night of Jan. 31 because she believed Lutgens possessed methamphetamine.
Later that evening, Cruz told the witness he’d shot Lutgens.
According to the witness, Cruz said he’d pulled a gun out to rob Lutgens. Lutgens fell backwards into a snowbank while struggling with Cruz over his backpack.
“Defendant then walked up to the victim, shot him in the head, took his belongings, and left,” according to charges.
The Inver Grove Heights Police Department began investigating the next morning when someone discovered Lutgens’ body in the snowbank, and an autopsy confirmed he died of a single gunshot wound to the head.
Cruz was arrested on Feb. 3 after a short police chase in the rental car that had been rented to Lutgens, according to charges. During the pursuit, a 9mm semi-automatic gun — the same used to kill Lutgens — was thrown from the vehicle.
Kyle Michael Reagan, 32, of Excelsior, is also charged in connection with the incident with one count of aiding an offender related to acting as an accomplice after the fact.
According to the criminal complaint, Reagan witnessed the shooting, took Lutgens’ belongings and “ditched” the vehicle a few blocks from Cruz’s apartment the evening of Jan. 31.
A witness told investigators they’d described the murder to her and she had watched them carry Lutgens’ belongings into Cruz’s bedroom.
According to the witness, Cruz said he told Lutgens “he wouldn’t get hurt” and that Cruz just wanted his “drugs and money,” but Lutgens took his backpack with him when he exited Cruz’s vehicle and a struggle ensued.
“We will do all we can to obtain justice for the violent death of Bryant Lutgens who tragically died one day before his 39th birthday,” Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said in a statement. “Our sympathy is extended to his family and friends for their great loss.”
A fourth suspect, Ryan Whitman, 38, of Richfield, is also charged with aiding an offender after the fact, according to the Star Tribune.
If convicted, Cruz faces 3-40 years.
In Minnesota, a grand jury must be assembled to indict someone on a first-degree murder charge, which carries a mandatory life sentence.