NEW BRIGHTON, Minn. (WCCO) — Dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, 57-year-old Neal Curtis Zumberge appeared Wednesday in Ramsey County intake court. He is formally charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder for gunning down his neighbors in a dispute over feeding deer.
According to the criminal complaint, the shooting began Monday with the defendant’s 23-year-old son, Jacob Zumberge. At around 6 p.m., he was arrested for an incident dating back to April 29 at the Spring Lake Park VFW club. That’s where he allegedly told Todd Stevens and Jennifer Cleven — the victims of the shooting — that he would “burn their house down and kill them.”
The couple notified Spring Lake Park police, who eventually caught up the younger Zumberge and placed him under arrest for probable cause terroristic threats and fifth-degree assault. He is now charged and being held on $100,000 bail.
Following their son’s arrest late Monday afternoon, Neal Zumberge’s wife, Paula Zumberge, swore at Stevens and Cleven as they stood outside their home across the street. According to the complaint, she allegedly said, “You f—— b—-. You put my son in jail.”
Stevens and Cleven were so alarmed they called police, according to Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo.
Then at around 8:30 p.m. Monday evening, the feud took a fatal turn.
When Neal Zumberge heard his wife yelling at the neighbors, he came out of his house holding a Browning 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun. It was loaded with buckshot.
The criminal complaint details the discovery of four empty shotgun casings near the victims’ front yard. Stevens was struck several times in the head and upper chest and died at the scene. Cleven was able to seek shelter inside the home and despite being hit in the stomach was treated and released.
According to the complaint, Paula Zumberge was heard saying, “Shoot, shoot, shoot, keep shooting.”
She was seen leaving the home in a white vehicle and is wanted by New Brighton police for questioning. She has not been located.
If convicted, Neal Zumberge faces up to 40 years in prison on the second-degree murder charge and up to 20 years in prison on the second-degree attempted murder charge.
The complaint says that Neal Zumberge told authorities he had a tumultuous relationship with Stevens, going back 15 years. He told police he didn’t intend to shoot Cleven. He said he left the shotgun in the basement of his home.