Wild West or self defense? Trial begins in Seventh Street Truck Park mass shooting

  • In US
  • 2023-02-02 01:59:00Z
  • By Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.

It was St. Paul's biggest mass shooting in recent memory, one described by police as "hellish."

When the flurry of gunfire ended at Seventh Street Truck Park bar, 27-year-old Marquisha Wiley was killed and 15 others were injured, including the alleged shooters, Terry Lorenzo Brown and Devondre Trevon Phillips.

"This case is about a tragic day for St. Paul, where a promising young woman lost her life, and where a young man, Devondre Phillips, is struggling to keep his," Phillips' attorney, John Lesch, said Wednesday in his opening statement for the 30-year-old's attempted murder trial in connection with the Oct. 10, 2021, mass shooting.

Phillips is charged with eight counts of attempted murder with intent for allegedly firing shots that injured Brown, Brown's friend Jeffrey Hoffman and others in the crowded bar. Phillips was raised in St. Paul, but was living in Las Vegas.

Brown, 34, of St. Paul, faces one count of second-degree murder - for allegedly firing the shot that killed Wiley - and four counts of attempted murder. His jury trial is to begin April 3.

Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Treye Kettwick told jurors during his opening that video surveillance and still images from inside the bar will show "the people who Phillips had a problem with" and Phillips firing first, hitting Hoffman in the stomach.

"St. Paul is not the Wild West, Seventh Street Truck Park bar and restaurant on West Seventh Street is not the O.K. Corral," Kettwick said. "It's a place for people to drink and dance and have fun with family and friends. It's not a place to get shot by Devondre Phillips."

Lesch laid out a self-defense claim, telling jurors that Brown had it out for Phillips for several months. He said Brown's "grudge" against Phillips began after Phillips stuck up for a cousin, who was Brown's girlfriend, following a domestic dispute between the pair at a restaurant in June.

Brown's grudge continued for several weeks with three other violent encounters and threats, and Phillips left for Las Vegas to "wait for things to cool down," Lesch told jurors.

But Brown and his "confederates" - Hoffman and another man not charged - got the chance to "attack" Phillips at Seventh Street Truck Park after they learned Phillips had returned to St. Paul that night and was now at the bar, Lesch said.

The "trio" armed themselves for their "planned confrontation" with Phillips - each approaching him in different directions to block his exit, as the video evidence will show, Lesch said. "He was not in a position to escape, and had fear for his life due to past actions from the trio," he said.

Video will show that Hoffman pressed a gun against Devondre Phillips' back, Lesch told jurors.

'Chaotic scene'

After the shooting, police described a "chaotic scene," with multiple people suffering gunshot wounds, some lying on the sidewalk and street. Shell casings and bullet fragments littered the floor.

From surveillance video and witness reports, police pieced together the following series of events, which are laid out in the charges, beginning around 12:15 a.m.:

Phillips was in the bar talking to two women when Hoffman approached. Hoffman appeared to be upset, and he directed one of the women to walk with him toward the end of the bar.

Phillips stopped talking to the other woman and walked toward the rest of his group.

Brown entered the bar. Hoffman re-entered the scene with a man with dreadlocks. Brown and the man with dreadlocks spoke to each other while looking at Phillips.

Hoffman walked directly up to Phillips.

Kettwick told jurors Phillips "had a duty to retreat."

"You won't see Mr. Phillips in the video leave," he said. … "You won't see him with his phone calling the police because he's perceived to be scared. Or, you won't see him walking up to the security guards."

Phillips shot Hoffman in the stomach, according to the charges. Phillips then walked toward the door and saw Brown.

He raised his gun and fired at Brown while moving toward the door. Brown fired back at Phillips. Police believe this is when Wiley was shot, charges say.

The Ramsey County medical examiner's office determined Wiley - a veterinary technician from South St. Paul - was shot in the back and the bullet penetrated her left lung and heart.

Phillips and Brown continued to shoot at one another until Brown, too injured to stand, fell over and Phillips exited the bar, the complaint states. Bar patrons jumped on Brown, punching him, taking his gun from him and holding it until police arrived.

Phillips limped out to a car, got in and then got out again, passing out on the pavement. Police later found a gun in the car.

Brown told police that when he entered the bar, he saw a man, Phillips, who is a relative of the woman he is dating. Brown and Phillips were in a dispute due to allegations of domestic abuse between Brown and his girlfriend, the complaint states.

Brown said, per the complaint, that Phillips shot him first and Brown returned fire.

Phillips initially told investigators he wasn't involved in the shooting. But when investigators told him it was captured on surveillance video, Phillips said he was targeted but didn't know why.

Testimony in the trial continues Thursday morning.

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