MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Varnell Allen has been sentenced to 25 and a half years in prison after earlier pleading guilty to fatally shooting a man who was walking with his girlfriend in downtown Minneapolis.

According to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, Varnell Allen entered a straight plea a few months ago to the sole count of second-degree intentional murder in connection to last year’s fatal shooting.

In September of 2019, Herrera Garcia, 21, was walking along Hennepin Avenue at 8th Street with his girlfriend just before 10:30 p.m. when a vehicle, driven by Allen, pulled up and yelled something at them. Garcia reportedly yelled something back.

Allen then stopped the vehicle and got out, along with his passenger. The two started fighting with Herrera Garcia, pistol whipping him. At that point, Allen dropped the gun, picked it back up and fired at Garcia.

Officers apprehended Allen a short time later in south Minneapolis. Allen admitted to attorneys that he did not know the victim before he intentionally shot and killed him, and said he did not do so in self-defense.

At the sentencing Tuesday, Enzo’s older sister Heyzel stood before the judge and his killer to share how her brother’s death has impacted their family.

“I know I am never going to get over this,” Heyzel Garcia said.

Pictures showing Enzo’s life played in court. We’d learn he cared about his family and friends, wanted the best for everyone, was proud of his job at an auto parts shop and wanted to be a dad someday.

“I can’t picture myself picking up the gun from the ground, aiming it at the back of an innocent person who I assaulted then shooting him, getting in my car, driving home,” Heyzel Garcia said. “What a coward.”

Heyzel had an outburst while the defense spoke and was escorted out of the courtroom.

Allen chose to speak, reading a statement and sometimes looking at the family.

“I wish I could trade places with him at all moments,” Allen said.

He admitted his guilt, calling this the greatest mistake of his life.

“It deeply hurts my heart to know I’m the cause of this family’s pain and suffering,” Allen added.

The judge acknowledged his remorse but said he made a series of extremely bad choices, sentencing Allen to 25 and a half years, with two-thirds to be served in prison.

Allen’s accomplice, Tyler Walker, was sentenced to just under five years last month.

Jennifer Mayerle