Jury convicts man of murder in 2021 Inver Grove Heights shooting

A Dakota County jury has convicted a Minneapolis man of murder in connection with a 2021 shooting in Inver Grove Heights.

Gabriel Alfonso Sanchez Cruz, 44, was found guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder while committing aggravated robbery and second-degree intentional murder in the death of 38-year-old Bryant Jon Lutgens of Burnsville.

The jury convicted Cruz after just two hours of deliberations, according to the Dakota County Attorney’s Office.

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Inver Grove Heights police found Lutgens dead in a snowbank on the morning of Feb. 1, 2021. Officers determined he’d been with a friend in Bloomington the night before but, after leaving to get money, never came back and wasn’t responding.

The rental Jeep Lutgens had been driving was stopped on Feb. 3 after a pursuit and Cruz, the driver, was arrested. A criminal complaint states that officers also recovered a gun that had been thrown from the Jeep and determined it was the same caliber as the one used to kill Lutgens.

A witness later told police Cruz told her that he’d shot Lutgens during an attempted robbery.

His sentencing is set for July 12.