By Jeff Wagner

ST. PAUL, MINN. (WCCO) — Tucked underneath the Wabasha Street Bridge near downtown St. Paul, Raspberry Island became a popular spot for Blake Swanson and his friend Evan Meide. They spent many late summer nights in the parking lot with their crew of car lovers.

“I’ll open my doors, let my music play, everybody listens because great acoustics in that area,” Meide said.

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That was plan early Sunday morning after a night out in the city. Meide was driving, with Swanson and Swanson’s girlfriend in the car.

“Never felt like I was gonna be in danger because it was usually with a pretty big group, and three people I thought would be enough” he said.

As they were waiting for more friends to arrive at Raspberry Island at 3 a.m., Meide decided to go in search of a Lime Scooter, leaving his two friends behind in the car. During the brief time he was gone, he heard a gunshot but didn’t think it sounded as came from the parking area. He returned to find Swanson’s girlfriend beside herself.

“Panic mode set in and then reality set in,” he said.

Blake Swanson (credit: CBS)

Twenty-year-old Swanson, from Bethel, had been shot in the neck and his girlfriend robbed while they were in the car. He died later at the hospital.

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“We’re all hurting. That’s not fair,” said Simone Marotte, Swanson’s former girlfriend.

She said the two were each other’s first loves and remained close.

“He was compassionate, caring, he loved everybody,” she said through tears.

“I want to know who would have done such a horrible thing to him. He wouldn’t do anything like that to anybody else, wouldn’t do anything to hurt anybody else,” Meide said.

Visiting Raspberry Island is something Meide isn’t so sure about now. He suggests people only go there in a large group. Marotte has put her hope in police to find the shooter.

“If anybody knows something, I just want them to come forward. I just want justice for him,” she said.

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Investigators haven’t released any information about a possible suspect. Anyone who was near Raspberry Island early Sunday morning is asked to call police.

Jeff Wagner