MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Minneapolis gang member will spend 26 years in prison after pleading guilty to shooting a 16-year-old whom he thought would tell authorities about an attempted robbery, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

Twenty-eight-year-old Thomas Joseph Neeland, a member of the Native Mob gang, pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder in the death of Andrew Battees.

The attorney’s office said both Neeland and Battees were tied to an attempted robbery on June 6, 2010, in New Brighton. When the robbery went bad, Neeland allegedly started shooting, giving four men non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.

According to a witness, Neeland shot Battees in the head because he thought the teen would tell police about the robbery-turned-shooting.

“This was the cold-blooded murder of a kid by a man he obviously looked up to,” said Mike Freeman, the county attorney. “Neeland made sure Andrew Battees would never have a chance to lead a productive life. We are pleased that he will be put away for a long time and his mother and other family members can see some small measure of justice.”

Police found Battees, suffering from a bullet wound, in the front yard of 2629 18th Ave. S. An ambulance brought him to the Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died on June 13, 2010.

Officers arrested Neeland later that month, and a grand jury indicted him in January 2011 on on two counts of first-degree murder with intent while committing a felony and two counts of second-degree murder.


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