MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A St. Paul man is charged with fatally shooting 23-year-old Nia Black in the parking lot of the Lamplighter Lounge almost six years after shooting a man in the exact same location.
James Jones Fields, 35, was charged Tuesday with two counts of second-degree murder. He faces up to 80 years in prison.
According to the criminal complaint, Black and three friends went to the Lamplighter, near West Larpenteur Avenue and Rice Street in St. Paul, just after 1 a.m. on June 13, but were unable to enter because the bar was at capacity.
While in the parking lot, witnesses said Black and another woman got into an argument that turned violent, causing several patrons to rush out of the lounge to watch. The fight soon turned into a melee, and Black and her friends were able to get away and into a Ford Explorer at about 1:11 a.m.
As they drove away, the driver struck some people in the parking lot before exiting onto Albemarle Street. Investigators say a man, later identified as Fields, fired about 15 rounds in the direction of the Explorer. One of the rounds struck Black, who was sitting in the front passenger’s seat. The driver said Black slumped over onto her shoulder.
As the driver sped away in search of a hospital, she was pulled over by a Ramsey County Sheriff’s deputy. Black was soon pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators connected James to the shooting via multiple surveillance, cellphone and Snapchat videos, as well as cellphone records and clothing. He was arrested four days later.
Fields has previous felony convictions, including assaults and a burglary. One of those assaults involved Fields shooting a man in the Lamplighter Lounge’s parking lot in August of 2014.
Black, who was known to friends and clients as “Brooklyn,” was a successful makeup artist who worked out of her studio in northeast Minneapolis’ Arts District.