MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Three St. Paul men are facing murder charges in a shooting at a St. Paul motel that left two people dead Tuesday.
Eric John Benner, 30, Ronald Lee Conway, 30, and Cass Cordel Oneal, 34, have been charged with two counts each of second-degree murder. Oneal has also been charged with one count of illegally possessing a firearm.
Earlier, Benner was charged with first-degree attempted aggravated robbery and attempted simple robbery in connection to the murder.
According to the criminal complaint, around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday, St. Paul police received a report of a shooting at the Midway Motel located on the 900 block of Snelling Avenue North.
The caller said there had been a disturbance in room 15 followed by several gunshots.
Upon arrival, police found two men, Nicholas Bennett Tousley, 30, and Dominque Charles Moss, 23, dead of gunshot wounds. Moss was found in the motel parking lot, while Tousley was found on the off-ramp of a nearby freeway.
Initial investigation led police to believe narcotics activity had taken place in the room.
Upon further investigation, police learned that Moss had rented the room earlier on Tuesday. Witnesses said he left the room for a while and when he returned he was upset at the number of people hanging out in the room.
According to police, witnesses said when Moss told one of the people to leave, he was pushed into the room and then shots occurred.
Surveillance video confirmed witness reports and showed three suspects leaving the scene in a black four-door vehicle after the shots. One of the three suspects was later identified as Benner.
Police said Benner told officers the shooting occurred because his friend, later identified as Conway, believed Tousley had stolen $1,000 from him.
According to the criminal complaint, Benner had driven Tousley and another man to Midway where they were dealing methamphetamine. Conway deals drugs and Tousley was a supplier. Later, when Conway learned Tousley was at Midway, he asked Benner to drive him there so he could “collect his money.”
Police said Benner drove Conway and another man, later identified as Oneal, to the room at the motel. Conway and Oneal approached the room, and Benner hid behind the door.
Benner told police he heard shots but initially said he did not see who shot. After the shots, everyone ran. Benner said he fled from the scene and picked up Conway and Oneal.
Later, Benner identified Oneal as the shooter.
Police obtained a search warrant for Oneal’s residence and during the search found a shirt Benner described him wearing and a revolver that matched a description of the gun used on the scene.
Oneal denied any involvement in the shooting.
If convicted, each man faces up to 40 years in prison for each murder count. Oneal could face an additional 15 years, $30,000 fine or both for the illegal possession of firearm, and Benner could face an addition 15 years, $30,000 or both for the theft charge.