St. Paul man charged in Minneapolis robbery spree, nine others charged following carjacking crackdown

A carjacking in the Tangletown area of south Minneapolis. (Crime Watch MPLS/Twitter)

A St. Paul man has been charged in a series of five armed robberies he allegedly committed over a 70-minute period in Minneapolis late last month. Several others have also been charged with various crimes after authorities conducted a targeted arrest operation in mid-December in response to the surge in violent crimes the city is experiencing.

The Minneapolis Police Department, with help from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota State Patrol, conducted a targeted arrest detail over the course of several days earlier this month. Their objective was to suppress the surge in violent crime, especially carjackings, that has plagued the city over the last several months.

Brandon Lee Rock, 20, of St. Paul was one of the arrested parties. Authorities say Rock and a younger accomplice used a vehicle they carjacked for a 70-minute robbery spree across Minneapolis on Nov. 27.

Brandon Lee Rock/Hennepin County Jail

They stole wallets, cell phones and keys, and in one incident they fired shots at a vehicle they attempted to carjack from a woman in the Tangletown neighborhood of south Minneapolis.

A report on the charges in the Star Tribune detailed the early morning robbery spree, saying:

  • About 7 a.m., Rock and a juvenile male approached a man as he was getting into his vehicle in the 1300 block of Southeast 7th Street. Rock pointed a handgun at the man and ordered him to hand over his wallet, cellphone and car keys. The pair fled in the man’s vehicle.
  • About 7:15 a.m., the pair approached a man near E. Lake Street and S. 21st Avenue. Rock held a gun while they robbed the man of his wallet and jacket before fleeing in the first victim’s vehicle.
  • About 7:50 a.m. in the Tangletown neighborhood, Rock and his accomplice drove up to a woman sitting in her vehicle in the 300 block of Elmwood Place. Rock ordered her at gunpoint to get out of the vehicle and hand over her purse. She refused and drove off as Rock fired several shots at her vehicle.
  • About 8 a.m., a man was on his cellphone in his vehicle near W. 38th Street and S. Dupont Avenue, where Rock tapped on the driver’s side window with his handgun. Rock ordered the man out of the vehicle and robbed him of his phone, wallet and car keys.
  • About 8:10 a.m., Rock and his partner drove up to a man walking in the 2900 block of S. Pleasant Avenue. They robbed him at gunpoint of $1,300 and his cellphone, then drove off.”

In a press conference held following the crackdown, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said that over 40 arrests were made, and several weapons were recovered.

During the press conference, Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson said that the county’s Violent Offender Task Force (VOTF) was utilized to target “bad, bad people who are causing havoc on the city of Minneapolis.” Chief Arradondo also explained that the targeted operation had the support of a State Patrol helicopter that was used to locate and monitor some of the suspects prior to arrest.

Chief Arradondo responded to a reporter’s inquiry about recent reports of juvenile suspects being routinely released from custody shortly after being arrested only to be suspected in further crimes. Arradondo stated that some of the individuals arrested were known to law enforcement and have lengthy criminal histories. Arradondo said that the police department is going to “continue to have conversations with the court systems to make sure everyone is holding up their end of the bargain” in regard to accountability in the prosecution of the perpetrators.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman released a statement several days after the targeted arrests were made, revealing that of the 41 arrests made during the operation, he had only filed charges in 10 of the 11 cases presented to his office. Freeman also clarified that not all of the arrests made were related to carjackings and that some of the arrests did not fall within the purview of the county attorney’s office for charging. Freeman said that some of the cases may still be under review for charges and that some of the suspects may have committed crimes that were not felonies and, as such, could be referred to the city attorney’s office for possible charges.

Freeman listed the 10 individuals and charges they are facing:

  • M.G. (16), second-degree assault (unknown current custody status)
  • Tyler Nathan Hopwood (21), possession of explosives (conditional release on $40,000 bond)
  • Julist Dewight King (31), possession of a firearm-convicted of crime of violence (in custody)
  • Quentin Dean Morrison (27), violation of no contact order and fifth-degree drug possession (released on $30,000 bail)
  • Joe Mullins (26), fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle (in custody)
  • Dalon Maurice Reed (30), fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle (released on $20,000 bail)
  • Brandon Lee Rock (20), aggravated robbery (four counts), attempted aggravated robbery and second-degree assault (in custody)
  • Jakob Robert Smith (33), fifth-degree drug possession (transferred to treatment/halfway house)
  • William David Suttles (22), possession of a firearm-convicted of crime of violence (in custody)
  • Marcel Cedric Antoine Thompson (24), second-degree riot (conditional release on zero bail)

WCCO posted the booking photos of the suspects, except for the juvenile, in their report on the charges.

Screenshot from WCCO

Rock and some of the other suspects are also facing charges in other cases, according to court records.

Alpha News previously reported that carjackings in the city of Minneapolis were up over 500% at the end of November over last year, and that at that time there had been at least 375 carjackings in 2020. The increase in carjackings is only part of the alarming surge in violent crimes the city has experienced in recent months, which also includes a total of 82 homicides as the year winds to an end — an increase of over 70% over last year’s total of 48 homicides. The latest homicide occurred mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve at the Lake Street LTR platform where police say a man in his 20s was shot following a confrontation with another man.

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.