2nd person charged in shooting that killed St. Paul father outside his home
Prosecutors have charged a second person with murder in connection to the shooting that killed a St. Paul father outside his home last month.
Thursday, Ramsey County prosecutors charged 18-year-old Ta Mla with second-degree intentional murder in the death of 44-year-old Michael Brasel.
Brasel, a youth hockey coach, was fatally shot on the morning of May 6 when he confronted someone who was apparently trying to break into his wife’s car.
A week later, 17-year-old Kle Swee was arrested and charged with Brasel’s murder.
The shooting happened just after 7:20 a.m. in the 2300 block of Chilcombe Avenue. Officers responded to multiple reports that Brasel had been shot in front of his home. They found him with multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and back and, despite being rushed to a hospital, he died shortly after 8 a.m.
Brasel’s son told officers he was inside the home when his father yelled outside, “What are you doing?” The boy then heard an estimated six gunshots and then saw a dark-colored vehicle drive off.
Brasel’s wife, Hilary, told officers she thought her husband saw someone going through their vehicle and then she heard three loud gunshots and tires squealing away. She then ran outside, started chest compressions and yelled for help, according to court documents.
Police were able to review surveillance video from nearby homes and noted the videos picked up gunshots and a black coupe that sped off. A criminal complaint notes that another neighbor told officers their vehicle had also been rummaged through before the shooting, and their surveillance video showed the same black vehicle involved.
Swee was arrested after a bumper from a vehicle that matched the black coupe’s description was found in Lauderdale a short time later. The license plate on that bumper pointed officers to Swee.
Court documents note that Swee was spotted with someone else at around 10 a.m. on May 6, and Swee paid for scooter rentals using the name of “Za Za” for the person he was with.
Officers were able to identify “Za Za” as Mla, whose Facebook account name is Za Za. Additionally, court documents state that his phone location data showed he was in the same area as Swee.
A criminal complaint states that officers noticed pictures from Swee’s cloud library that showed him and Mla together in late April, and Mla wearing the same hooded sweatshirt he wore shortly after Brasel’s murder. Officers also found a message from Mla to Swee on April 19 asking if Swee still needed a gun. Swee allegedly replied that he’d need one the following week.
Cellphone data then placed Mla and Swee together from the night of May 5 through almost the entire next day, including during Brasel’s murder.
DNA evidence from a bag that had been moved inside Brasel’s vehicle showed a profile for Hilary Brasel but also couldn’t exclude Mla as a possible contributor. The complaint notes that the probability of the DNA mixture found is more than 100 billion times more likely to involve Mla than Brasel and someone else.
Mla was arrested during a traffic stop Tuesday, and officers found a handgun under the front passenger seat of the car he was in. During an interview with police, the complaint states that Mla admitted he and Swee were looking for items to steal in vehicles and he was driving because Swee was tired. He said Brasel then surprised him and grabbed him from behind and he heard gunshots, then quickly drove off.
Mla added that he didn’t see Swee shoot Brasel and eventually said the gun found in his vehicle when he was arrested was the same gun used to kill Brasel.
Court documents also note that Mla said a third person was in the car with him and Swee, and they were supposed to be lookouts. Mla said Swee apologized after shooting Brasel and said he felt bad, and the third man was asleep until they were halfway back to Swee’s garage.
Mla has two prior juvenile cases involving gun possession, the court documents note. However, adjudication was withheld on both cases.
Mla made his first court appearance Thursday morning and had his bail set at $2 million. His next hearing is scheduled for July 12.
Because of his age, Swee’s case is still in juvenile court, although prosecutors are trying to have him certified as an adult. His next hearing is set for June 29.