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2 Mpls. Men Charged In Fatal Shooting, Burglary

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –- A crowd of several hundred people came out to Brackett Park in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis Tuesday night to learn more about the murder of 25-year-old Shea Jeffrey William Stremcha, and the two men now charged in connection with his murder.

The crowd of neighbors and citizens came with safety concerns, wondering about a motive, how the suspected burglars settled on breaking into Stremcha’s home and what caused them to fire a deadly shot into his chest.

“This is a very, very rare kind of crime and very, very unique,” Third Precinct Inspector Lucy Gerold told the crowd. “We have DNA and fingerprint evidence that put both of them at that scene so it’s a very strong case.”

Robert Shelby, 27, and Semaj Williams, 21, both of Minneapolis, have been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree burglary for the July 20 incident. Police said Shelby allegedly fired the gun, while Williams was involved in the break-in.

According to criminal charges, officers were dispatched to a residence on the 2900 block of 45th Avenue South in Minneapolis on the report of a shooting.

Upon arrival, they found Stremcha on his back in the hallway outside the bedroom with a pool of blood around his body. A large knife was resting near Stremcha’s hand and it was determined that he died from a single gunshot wound to the heart.

Police met with Stremcha’s fiance, who was the only other occupant in the home. She said she and Stremcha were sleeping when she woke up to the sound of breaking glass. She said she woke up Stremcha, who grabbed a knife from a table next to the bed and left the bedroom to investigate.

A short time later, the woman heard a loud gunshot and saw Stremcha fall to the floor. Police found traces of blood on Stremcha’s knife and a small trail of blood in the home and sent it to the Minneapolis Police Crime Lab unit to be processed. The lab results showed the blood at the crime scene was a match for Shelby. A fingerprint recovered at the home was also found to match that of Williams.

Both men were arrested and taken into custody. Police noted that Shelby had a large cut on his hand at the time of the arrest. Police arrested the pair within 36 hours of the crime.

Neighbor Ashley Crain said she’s already living her life differently. She often saw Stremcha and his fiancé come and go, and now said she’s sadly watching over her shoulder at all times.  

“One house away. It’s tough,” said Crain. “And for us we are always reminded because the house is right there so you can’t walk your dog down the street the same way you did before.”

Inspector Gerold told the crowd Tuesday night that a burglary turned murder is rare. Out of all the reported burglaries in this area since 2000, only six involved guns. In fact, Gerold said crime in the area has gone down 40 percent since last year and 60 percent when police compared July of 2011 to July of 2010.

Still, police are urging anyone that hears a break-in or just sees suspicious activity to always call 911 immediately.

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