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Gunman pleads guilty to robbery, shooting at London Road repair shop

Brandon James Tyson

A Duluth man admitted on Monday that he shot a local businessman in the chest during a December robbery.

Brandon James Tyson, 30, pleaded guilty in State District Court in Duluth to a charge of attempted second-degree murder, while an aggravated first-degree robbery charge was dismissed as part of a plea deal.

Tyson accepted a plea agreement identical to that of co-defendant Robert William Neft, calling for 12½ years in prison. The agreement also prevents the U.S. Attorney’s Office from prosecuting the crime in federal court.

Judge Shaun Floerke accepted Tyson’s plea and scheduled a formal sentencing for April 14. Neft also is set to be sentenced that day.

The agreed-upon prison terms fall within state sentencing guidelines, Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Jon Holets said.

Testifying at his plea hearing, Tyson admitted to robbing and shooting Colin Mackin, the owner of iLF Smartphone Clinic on London Road, on Dec. 23.

The two men admitted that they entered the store together to rob it. Tyson was armed with a pistol, Neft with a BB gun.

Tyson said he became involved in a struggle with Mackin inside the store. During the incident, Neft left his weapon inside the store, according to testimony.

When Tyson and Neft left the store with a laptop computer and other stolen goods, Mackin followed with the BB gun, Tyson testified.

“He had the BB gun pointed at me,” Tyson told the court. “I raised my gun and shot him.”

Tyson told his attorney, public defender Cynthia Evenson, that he understood his actions could not be considered self-defense because the shooting occurred while he was in the process of robbing the store.

Mackin was shot point-blank in the chest several times, according to court documents. He was taken to a local hospital, where he spent several nights with non-life-threatening injuries.

Evidence left at the scene led authorities to arrest Tyson and Neft the day after the incident. Neft reportedly admitted to his and Tyson’s involvement in a subsequent interview with police.

Mackin, who attended the plea hearings, said he is recovering well and is satisfied with the plea agreements.