Additional charges filed against man accused of fatal shooting spurred by gang-affiliated rap song
A man charged with murder for the fatal shooting of another man at St. Paul’s Raspberry Island is now charged with more crimes related to the incident.
Court documents show Romello Ifonlaja-Randle, 23, from Maplewood, is charged with another count of second-degree murder, two counts of a crime committed for the benefit of a gang and illegal possession of a firearm.
The additional charges were filed on Nov. 21 after Ifonlaja-Randle was already charged with one count of second-degree murder.
The criminal complaint says that St. Paul police responded to Raspberry Island just after 9 p.m. on Aug. 14 for reports of a shooting. They then found a man, later identified as 20-year-old Marcus Anthony Baker Jr., suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Baker was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Investigators then spoke to a witness who said Baker was playing a song by NLU SKEET, a local rap artist affiliated with East Side gangs.
The witness said that a Black man with dreadlocks down to his chest wearing a white hoodie, light jeans, and brown Nike Jordan 3s then approached Baker and told him to shut the music off. Baker then asked the man if he was from West Side, and the man responded that was from the “dub.” The man then slapped Baker when he refused to shut the music off and shot him when he tried to get out of his vehicle. The shooter then fled across the bridge, according to the witness account.
Another witness said four or five Black men approached Baker and told him to turn the music off before one of them slapped and shot Baker. The witness said a female then fled the scene in a silver Volkswagen.
A criminal complaint states that officers found dash camera video from a vehicle parked next to the Suburban Baker was in, and that video captured a silver Volkswagen drive off after the shooting. They also were told the suspects left a brown Target bottle carrier with two unopened bottles of Tequila.
With help from Target, officers were able to track the purchases of the alcohol and review corresponding surveillance video that showed three people getting into a silver Volkswagen after buying the liquor. One of those people was Ifonlaja-Randle and another was 24-year-old Tristan Ballard, court documents state.
On Aug. 16, officers went back to Raspberry Island and recovered a “ghost gun” with an attached laser that was lying on rocks along the south side of the bridge connecting the island to Harriet Island Boulevard. A test firing later showed casing matched a casing found at the murder scene, and DNA testing found Ifonlaja-Randle’s DNA on the gun’s laser attachment. Cellphone records also put Ifonlaja-Randle and Ballard at the scene of the murder when it happened, the complaint states.
Ifonlaja-Randle and Ballard were later arrested in Brooklyn Center when law enforcement served a search warrant, but Ifonlaja-Randle denied being at the scene, knowing Ballard or anything about Baker’s murder or the gun that was found. A witness later identified Ifonlaja-Randle as the man who shot Baker, according to court documents.
The complaint adds that Ifonlaja-Randle “meets the criteria” to be considered a “Shoota Boy” member of the West Side gang, and police say rap songs are commonly used by gangs to taunt their opposition.
No charges have been filed against Ballard in this incident.