MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 42-year-old Minneapolis man was charged Thursday in the murder of Bryant Jon Lutgens, who was found dead Monday on a snowbank besides a Twin Cities road.
The Dakota County Sheriff’s Office says Gabriel Alfonso Sanchez Cruz, from Minneapolis, faces a second-degree murder charge for allegedly shooting 39-year-old Lutgens, of Bloomington, in the head while trying to rob him of his drugs. The killing happened on the 1300 block of 60th Street West in Inver Grove Heights.READ MORE: 'What Are The Odds?': Mountain Biker's Life Saved By Off-Duty Doctor On Minnesota Trail
Police say Lutgens had visited a friend Sunday evening in Bloomington, but left to go get money in a Jeep but never returned. The friend then was unable to get in touch with him Sunday and Monday, telling investigators that she wanted to wish him a happy birthday.READ MORE: Minneapolis Man Charged In Conspiracy To Distribute Fentanyl
Police figured out the Jeep was a rental, and contacted the rental business Wednesday, which was able to electronically track the vehicle to Minneapolis. Police found the Jeep and tried to pull the driver over, but he sped off and threw a 9mm handgun out the window. The driver then crashed, and he and his two passengers tried to flee. The handgun police recovered was the same weapon used in Lutgens’s death.
A witness contacted police that same day to say Lutgens had dropped her off at Cruz’s apartment prior to Lutgens’s visit to his other female friend. Cruz asked the woman if Lutgens had methamphetamine, and she thought he did. Cruz and Lutgens then spoke on the phone and arranged to meet. Cruz left, then returned about 90 minutes later and said he shot Lutgens while trying to rob him of his backpack.MORE NEWS: Kerfoot Canopy Tour Offers A Unique View Of Minnesota's Fall Colors
If convicted, Cruz could serve up to 40 years in prison.