South St. Paul couple charged in drive-by shooting over rental car


Desean Thomas

Breanna Harris

Charges: Victim shot in hip

A 51-year-old Rochester man was shot in the hip in South St. Paul while trying to take back a rental car he loaned to two women weeks ago. A man pulled up in a SUV and sprayed the victim and his truck with bullets, according to documents filed in Dakota County District Court late Aug. 22.

Desean Lamont Thomas, 22, and Breanna Sherries Harris, 21, who share the same South St. Paul address, were arrested Aug. 20 and later charged in connection with the drive-by shooting.

Thomas is charged with three felonies for second-degree attempted murder, drive-by shooting and possession of a firearm after being convicted of a violent crime.

Harris is charged with second-degree assault, a felony.

In February of 2009, Thomas was sentenced for first-degree aggravated robbery and simple robbery in Ramsey County. 

The incident

South St. Paul police were summoned to the area of Motor and Bircher avenues near midnight on Aug. 19 to investigate a report of gunshots, the criminal complaints against Thomas and Harris said.

Police found 14 spent shell casings littering the north side of Bircher, across the street from the entrance to an alley between Willis and Motor avenues. Bulletholes pocked the victim's truck; the vehicle's back window was shot out.

A bullet tore through the victim's hip, the complaint said. His injuries were not life-threatening, according to a Dakota County Attorney's Office spokesperson.

Shot while seeking rental

The complaints said the victim was trying to retrieve a car he had lent to Harris and a woman witnesses identified as Thomas's sister while their car was being fixed.

The two women reportedly evaded the 51-year-old twice, refusing to return the vehicle. During one altercation, Thomas allegedly got out of a red Ford Explorer and argued with the victim.

When the victim returned to Harris's home Aug. 19, he approached the two women in the alley behind the apartment to demand his car back. They apparently agreed to bring him to the car, but said the victim could not leave his truck in the alley. 

According to the complaints, he then drove onto Bircher and turned east. He parked his truck, and  reportedly saw the red Ford Explorer come down the street and then turn around.

The victim got out of his truck, took a couple of steps, and then Thomas allegedly began firing a gun at him. The victim said he was able to hide behind his truck, but was hit in the hip when he turned to run.

Identified in photo line-up

Executing a search warrant at the defendants' apartment, officers found documents and mail identifying Harris and Thomas. 

Neighbors told police Harris had been living with her boyfriend and his sister, the complaints said. In a photo line-up, the victim identified Thomas as the shooter.

Police found Thomas and Harris in a SUV matching the description and license plate the victim reported was on the rental vehicle, the complaints said.

Harris reportedly told police the victim was supposed to fix her car, but didn't. 

Court appearances set

Bail for Thomas was set at $750,000. He's scheduled to appear in court Sept. 2. In addition to the robbery conviction, Thomas has been sentenced in Minnesota for theft twice and domestic assault, all misdemeanors.

Bail for Harris was set at $150,000. Her next court appearance is Sept. 16. According to court records, Harris has been sentenced in Minnesota for theft and receiving/possessing stolen property, both misdemeanors.

A criminal complaint against Thomas's sister was signed by a judge Monday, according to an attorney's office spokesperson. 

This is the second drive-by shooting in two days in the area. Both incidents are being prosecuted as attempted murder charges. A 35-year-old St. Paul man was charged after allegedly shooting a 35-year-old man in his arm and leg while he was hanging out with friends in a garage Aug. 18 in West St. Paul, a St. Paul suburb just northwest of South St. Paul.

Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7815 and kroby@lillienews.com. Follow her at twitter.com/KRobyNews.

 

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