Nina’s shooting one of three homicides since June
Three homicides since June in northeast Burnsville, including the Sept. 22 shooting at Nina’s Grill, have police seeking to calm unsettled residents and business owners.
Police will hold a public meeting on northeast Burnsville crime concerns Thursday, Nov. 14, from 6:30-8 p.m. at Mary, Mother of the Church, 3333 Cliff Road E.
Police Chief Eric Gieseke will open the meeting by discussing the recent crimes. Speakers will also include Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom.
The spate of violent crimes is an “anomaly” for northeast Burnsville that has unsettled area residents, Gieseke said.
“I’ve gotten contacted by people,” said the chief, who once patrolled the area as an officer. “I know city staff and the (City Council) have received some emails about crime issues.”
The Nina’s Grill shooting is linked to the murder of 20-year-old Anarae Schunk, a Burnsville High School graduate and University of Minnesota student who grew up in northeast Burnsville’s North River Hills neighborhood.
Schunk was seen at the bar before closing time Sept. 22 with her ex-boyfriend, 31-year-old Anthony Lee Nelson, of Rosemount. Nelson is accused of fatally shooting 23-year-old Palagor Obang Jobi in the parking lot during an altercation. Nelson’s current girlfriend, Ashley Conrade, 24, told police she and Schunk drove away from the bar with Nelson after the shooting and went to Conrade’s Rosemount townhome.
Schunk’s family reported her missing Sept. 23. Rosemount police say Schunk was killed Sept. 22 in Rosemount. Schunk’s body was found Sept. 30 in a rural Rice County ditch.
A suspect in Schunk’s killing, Nelson faces first- and second-degree murder charges in the Nina’s shooting.
The two other northeast Burnsville homicides remain open cases.
A 4-year-old boy was killed June 11 at his home at 31 Horizon Heights Road. Keyontay Miller-Peterson died of complications from blunt force abdominal injuries, the Hennepin County medical examiner announced July 25.
Police say the suspect is 24-year-old William Alphonso Warr, who had a protection order barring him from the residence. Warr was charged with violating the protection order, criminal property damage, fleeing a police officer, giving false information to police and driving after revocation.
Warr, the boy’s mother’s boyfriend, pleaded guilty to all five counts and was sentenced July 17 to two years and two months in prison, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.
The county attorney’s office has yet to bring charges in the homicide. “We haven’t given up on it,” Gieseke said.
There are also no charges in the Aug. 13 shooting on the 2100 block of East 117th Street that killed 23-year-old Abdifatah Ahmed Mahumod. He and another man were shot and driven from the scene by a woman who then stopped at the SuperAmerica station at 2250 Cliff Road in Eagan. Police found Mahumod dead in the vehicle.
“That’s an open case, too,” Gieseke said. “We hope to bring closure to that in the future.”
Nina’s Grill at 2510 Horizon Drive has come under fire from some, and Gieseke has acknowledged complaints to police about the bar and restaurant near Highway 13 and Cliff Road.
However, “This isn’t a meeting about one individual. It’s not a meeting about one particular business, or anything like that,” the chief said.
Schunk’s brother Tyson called for Nina’s to close during his sister’s public memorial service Oct. 6 at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center. The comment drew robust applause in the crowd of about 1,000 mourners.
Tyson has since written Facebook postings suggesting a petition to convince owner Nina Sorkin to either “reform” or “relocate” the business.
He wrote on the Please Help Find Anarae Schunk Facebook page that his public comments about violence, drugs and prostitution at Nina’s were based on comments from “dozens of concerned neighbors” who feel unsafe at night living near the bar. Tyson wrote that he doesn’t blame Nina’s for Anarae’s murder and isn’t on “an emotional crusade to close her business at all costs.”
Gieseke has described the volume of police calls for service at Nina’s — 132 from Jan. 1, 2011, to Oct. 2, 2013 — as “significant.” He has said police are investigating reports of illegal activity there.
Gieseke said northeast Burnsville (north of 130th Street and east of Interstate 35W), which comprises one of four patrol quadrants in the city, generates roughly the same number of police calls as the other quadrants.
“The calls can be the same, but you can have one or two more challenging or difficult calls that can change how an area is viewed,” Gieseke said.
Two other recent incidents have also plagued the area.
A man with a sawed-off shotgun took two employees hostage Sept. 7 at the Holiday station at Nicollet Avenue and Highway 13. One of the employees was his former girlfriend. Police surrounded the station and persuaded him to release the hostages.
Ariel Barnett, 31, of Burnsville, who fired into the ceiling of the store, was charged with two counts of second-degree assault and two counts of kidnapping.
Graffiti vandals struck North River Hills the night of Aug. 28, leaving the tag “DNH MAFIA.” The sign at North River Hills Park and about a dozen park buildings and homes were struck.
At the Nov. 14 meeting, Backstrom and Drew Evans, assistant superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, will discuss crime trends in Dakota County and Minnesota.
Police officials will discuss their anti-crime efforts and cooperation between agencies. Representatives from the Eagan and Apple Valley police departments and the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office will be on hand.