Pastor Spreads Message of Hope after Good Samaritan Killing in N. Mpls.

Updated: 02/13/2014 10:49 AM
Created: 02/13/2014 6:59 AM
By: Jennie Olson

The man accused of killing a veteran inside his North Minneapolis home will be in court Thursday, the same day community members are offering a message of hope to the neighbors shaken by the crime.

Devon Derrick Parker is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 69-year-old Thomas Sonnenberg on Friday, Jan. 31.

On Thursday, neighbors will be knocking on doors in the area to spread a message.

A local pastor is trying to make neighbors feel more comfortable in their own homes. At 3 p.m., Pastor Harding Smith will walk the streets of North Minneapolis and talk to neighbors about crime and security. Smith says some people have become paralyzed with fear in their community, so they want to offer help.

The unusual homicide has community members looking for answers. According to the criminal complaint, officers responded to a report of a man who had gone to a home on the 3700 block of North Aldrich Avenue asking the homeowner to call the police because people were chasing him with a bat.

Sonnenberg allowed Parker to enter his home and locked the door. According to the complaint, both men were in the kitchen while Sonnenberg called 9-1-1.

An officer arrived at the scene at about 11:51 a.m., and the door was locked and no one answered. The officer saw Sonnenberg through the window, who was slumped over in a chair and appeared to be dead, police say.

Sonnenberg's wife came to the door and told the officer she couldn't unlock the door. According to the complaint, the officer noticed Parker come up behind the woman and place both hands on her shoulders. The officer ordered Parker to the floor at gunpoint. The woman was able to unlock the door, and Parker was arrested.

The woman told police she was home when Parker came to the door. She said he appeared to be frantic, paranoid and in some sort of distress. After her husband called police, she heard Parker ask him for a gun, knife, hat and gloves. She then heard a gunshot.

Parker came out of the kitchen and ordered the woman to the floor, she said. He allegedly choked her with his hands and held a gun to her head. She said the gun belonged to her husband and that he always carried it on his hip.

Parker allegedly had the woman go upstairs to lock them in the bedroom, and when police arrived, they went downstairs.

Officers later recovered Sonnenberg's revolver underneath the bed in the upstairs bedroom.

At 20 years old, Parker has already had several run-ins with the law, including assault and drug charges. He has served seven months behind bars for other crimes and was supposed to be in court for a sentencing hearing the day police say he killed Sonnenberg.

Parker will appear in court Thursday for violating his probation.

Devon Derrick Parker
Photo: Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

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