Stepdad of teen killed at Woodbury graduation party charged with drive-by shooting

Dawson eventually admitted to police that he drove to the Edgewood residence with the gun and fired the first shots at the people he thought were “messing with his kids.”

Keith Dawson/Washington County Jail

In a bizarre turn of events, the stepfather of a teen shot and killed at a suburban graduation party over the weekend is facing several felony charges including drive-by shooting in connection to the incident.

Demaris Hobbs-Ekdahl, 14, of Maplewood, was shot and killed on Saturday night while attending a graduation party with his 16-year-old brother in Woodbury, Minnesota.

According to a statement released by the Woodbury Police Department hours after the shooting, officers responded to an address on the 6100 block of Edgewood Avenue around 10:45 p.m. after receiving several 911 calls in which screaming could be heard and information was given that someone had possibly been shot.

Police arrived to find 30-40 people at a nearby residence at what appeared to be a graduation party. Witnesses told police that they saw a white SUV and a dark truck or SUV that may have been involved.

An early media report on the shooting stated that Hobbs-Ekdahl had called his mother wanting to leave the party after three men pulled a gun on his older brother. The report said that the suspects shot Hobbs-Ekdahl in the back as he was leaving the party.

However, charges filed in Washington County on Monday against Keith Dawson, the stepfather of Hobbs-Ekdahl, reveal new information about what happened.

Charges state that Dawson, 35, took a gun and drove to the location of the party after receiving a phone call from his 14-year-old stepson stating that he and his brother were being robbed and that they needed help.

A witness told police that she saw a white Tahoe approach slowly and honk its horn. The vehicle pulled up next to a dark SUV, and the driver of the Tahoe began shooting through the open front passenger window. The witness said she saw gunfire being returned from the dark SUV toward the Tahoe and thought she heard about 15-20 shots fired.

Officers located the Tahoe driving north on Century Avenue near where the shooting occurred, but the vehicle failed to pull over when police tried to stop it. The Tahoe proceeded to Regions Hospital where Hobbs-Ekdahl was found fatally shot inside along with Dawson, who was the driver, and two other males who were not injured.

Police found multiple shell casings in the Tahoe, and charges say that casings were falling out of the vehicle during the arrest procedures.

Police later tracked down a Kia Forte at an address in Maplewood that was reportedly involved in the shooting. There they spoke to Hobbs-Ekdahl’s older brother, previously publicly identified as Davion.

Davion told police that he left the party with his younger brother and two other people in the Forte after calling Dawson for help. Davion said they met Dawson near a business a short distance away from the party location. At that point, Dawson told them that they needed to return to the party so the others would stop “messing with them.”

Davion, Demaris and the two others got back into the Forte and followed Dawson back to the party where Dawson fired shots at the rivals. The Forte was close behind the Tahoe when shots were returned from the dark SUV and Demaris was shot in the back, the complaint states.

Dawson eventually admitted to police that he drove to the Edgewood residence with the gun and fired the first shots at the people he thought were “messing with his kids.” He said he fired six or seven shots before gunfire was returned. Dawson told police he threw the gun out the window on the way to the hospital; it was later recovered by police.

Dawson has been charged with one count each of drive-by shooting and prohibited person in possession of a firearm, and two counts of second-degree assault.

Dawson has a lengthy history of convictions and is prohibited from possessing firearms as a result of a 2013 felony conviction in Ramsey County on first-degree burglary of an occupied dwelling.

Of Dawson’s 36 prior convictions, at least 10 are felonies, including another drive-by shooting, two convictions each on third-degree burglary, prohibited person in possession of a firearm, and auto theft, as well as forgery and other theft.

Dawson made his first court appearance on Tuesday and remains in custody on $500,000 bail. He is scheduled to make his next court appearance on June 21.

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