Man connected to 2019 shooting of St. Paul firefighter takes plea, avoids prison

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A man who pleaded guilty to killing an off-duty St. Paul firefighter in 2019 will not spend any time behind bars.

Thomas Harrigan was shot and killed in September 2019.

Dontay Caraway, of St. Paul, was arrested and ended up pleading guilty to manslaughter. On Thursday, a judge approved a plea deal for Caraway that sentenced him to three years of probation and dismissed the most serious charge of murder.

Investigators said Caraway and his brother, Blake Caraway, showed up at Harrigan’s eastside home to confront a woman who lived there.

Harrigan was killed when he stepped in to break up the fight and, according to a criminal complaint, Blake shot him.

Both Dontay and Blake were charged in connection to the incident.

Blake was acquitted by a jury early this year.

Harrigan’s family was in the courtroom Thursday morning as Dontay was being sentenced, calling for him to be sentenced to prison.

"My son was robbed of his life," said John Harrigan, Thomas’s father. "I’ve been robbed of my son."

Harrigan begged the judge to reject the plea deal in the hopes that one of the brothers would face more time behind bars.

"He has spent less time in custody than my son spent fighting in war zones for his country," Harrigan said about Dontay, who also appeared in the courtroom.

"My condolences go out to the family and I apologize for the pain they have been through," Dontay Caraway said in court Thursday, expressing remorse for his involvement, which he admitted to during a previous plea hearing.

Sandra Harrigan, Thomas’s mother, said she feels differently about the sentence than her husband.

"We might not all agree," she said after the sentencing. "This was the best it could have gone under all the circumstances."

During the sentencing on Thursday, the judge said he only had two options: accept or reject the joint plea motion agreed on by the prosecutors and the defense. If rejected, the case would’ve gone to trial and the state would’ve risked another acquittal.

"To let him go free with no prison time is a horrible message to send out to a community that has been wracked by senseless violence for the last three years," John Harrigan said after the sentencing.

Harrigan had been a St. Paul firefighter for six years and had also served two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as a combat medic for the U.S. Army and National Guard.

Dontay was sentenced to three years of probation as part of the plea agreement with the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. If he follows all the rules, he will avoid prison time.