MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A teenager is in custody and a St. Paul man is dead after what police say started as a fight.

According to police, officers were dispatched at about 11:15 p.m. to the 600 block of Edmund Avenue West on the report of two people fighting behind a home.

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When police arrived, officers found a man gravely injured in the alleyway. Despite life-saving efforts, the man died at the scene. He was later identified by police as 45-year-old Lay Hae.

A teenage boy suspect and two witnesses were located at the scene by officers. The witnesses were interviewed and released, and the suspect was taken to St. Paul police custody.

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The woman who called police lives across the alley. She says she heard the victim moaning and went outside to understand why.

“I was outside and I seen him walking, and he was dragging something. I seen something dragging behind him, and I was like, ‘What the heck was that?’ And then I seen him sit down, and I heard ‘Thump, thump, thump,’ about five, six of them,” Christine Sampson said.

That’s when she went back inside and asked her father, Pat Sampson, to come out. He said the teenage boy seemed like he was looking for help, saying the victim still had a pulse. That’s when they called 911.

Officers got there within minutes but weren’t able to save the man’s life.

Pat Sampson said he’s lived in the neighborhood for a long time, and thought things were getting better. He said the victim was his neighbor.

“He didn’t speak English, but we still were friends,” he said. “(He was) friendly. He’d always bring me a beer over. Nice guy.”

Sampson said he and his neighbors used to meet with the St. Paul Police Department regularly to address violence. Those meetings had been postponed because of COVID-19, but the Western District meetings just started back up again last week. The police department says they’re focused on addressing the violence through that type of community engagement.

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The investigation into the incident, which police believe to be a domestic-related homicide, continues. Anyone with additional information is asked to call 651-266-5650. It is the 19th homicide of the year in St. Paul.

Christiane Cordero