Man on trial for Truck Park bar shooting begins testimony

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The man who is currently on trial in connection to the deadly mass shooting at the Seventh Street Truck Park bar in 2021 took the stand Tuesday.

After a two-day jury selection process, 30-year-old Devondre Trevon Phillips’ trial officially started Wednesday of last week. He’s charged with eight counts of attempted second-degree murder in connection to the Oct. 10, 2021, shooting.

Phillips’ alleged accomplice, 34-year-old Terry Brown, is charged with one count of second-degree murder and four counts of second-degree attempted murder. Brown’s trial is now scheduled to start on April 3. It was previously scheduled to begin at the same time as Phillips’ trial.

RELATED: Monday marks 1 year since fatal mass shooting at St. Paul’s Seventh Street Truck Park Bar

Tuesday morning, Phillips described multiple altercations with Brown and his friends in the spring and summer of 2021. One of those was an incident in June at Flameburger, where Phillips said he and his cousin — who was dating Brown — were waiting in line when Brown approached. Phillips said Brown grabbed his cousin and made threats, so he intervened.

When asked why he intervened, Phillips explained that he’d previously lost another cousin to a domestic violence incident and felt compelled to defend his cousin at Flameburger. However, when he stepped in, he said Brown started making threats toward him and, when they stepped outside, Brown and several of his friends pulled guns on Phillips.

While they ran away without harming him, Phillips said Brown and his friends soon started calling him to mock him and threaten to kill him when they caught him again.

In several subsequent encounters, Phillips described being shot at by Brown and his friends.

Due to those encounters, Phillips said he decided to not stay in Minnesota for the whole summer as initially planned and went back to Las Vegas.

“To see somebody that frequently means it’s getting too hot,” Phillips told jurors.

It wasn’t until the night of the Truck Park shooting in October that Phillips returned, adding that he didn’t tell anyone and wanted to lay low so he didn’t post anything on social media, either. Phillips said he wanted to go from the airport straight home and rest but his nephew wanted to get a drink so he agreed.

Phillips said he wasn’t armed when they went to the bar but then he saw an old friend from high school outside who said he’d heard Phillips was possibly in some trouble and sold Phillips his gun.

Still, Phillips testified that he wasn’t looking for Brown and his friends and didn’t think they’d be trying to find him.

Before lunch Tuesday, Phillips didn’t get into the shooting but did walk through some surveillance footage from inside the bar just prior to the shooting and pointed out that when he saw Brown and his friends by the doors, he got nervous and hoped they’d move so he could escape. However, “in a blink of an eye,” the started approaching him.

He added that, when he saw Brown and his friends, he was thinking, “Am I gonna get outta here alive?” When asked by his lawyer about injuring innocent bystanders, Phillips said, “I wish I could’ve done something different” to avoid the shooting but added, “I know that if I didn’t fire when I did, I’d be dead. It’s not a question but I do feel bad” about injuring others.

Marquisha Wiley, 27, was killed in the shooting and more than a dozen other people were hurt.

Prosecutors say Phillips fired the first shot that night, although Phillips and his attorney laid out how Brown was the aggressor and Phillips was simply trying to defend himself.

Prosecutors also tried to push back on the idea that Phillips didn’t have any other options, noting he never called the police after any of the prior incidents involving Brown and his friends and he didn’t call the police, security or ask anyone else for help between the time he saw Brown and his group at Truck Park and when the first shots were fired.

Additionally, the prosecution tried to imply that Phillips should’ve known Brown and his group would be there even before he saw them because Phillips had talked to his cousin, who was dating Brown, earlier at the bar. Phillips said he didn’t have any indication Brown was still dating his cousin and never asked her if Brown would show up that night.

Prosecutors will continue questioning Phillips Wednesday morning. When that is finished, closing arguments are expected to take place Wednesday before the case is handed to the jury, which will be sequestered during deliberations.