Surveillance video allegedly shows a 17-year-old pulling a handgun from his waistband and firing into a crowd of people Saturday night in Duluth.
Patrick Wilson Battees Jr., of Proctor, made an initial appearance in juvenile court Monday on a charge of intentional second-degree murder in the city's first homicide of 2021. The 22-year-old victim still has not been identified by Duluth police, though court documents list his initials as J.K.A.
Police said in a news release Monday that "providing any additional information at this time could impede the investigation and the results that come from it."
According to the juvenile delinquency petition:
Police were called just after 7 p.m. to the 100 block of East Third Street, where they found J.K.A. with a single gunshot wound to the head. He was taken to Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center and pronounced dead.
A witness said he heard gunfire and then saw several people running west on Third Street. The witness described seeing a male with a star tattoo near his eye crouching behind a van and tucking what appeared to be a black handgun into his waistband before leaving the scene.
Police located Battees, who matched the description, in a nearby alley. A .45-caliber pistol was found in his suspected flight path, matching a shell casing discovered at the shooting scene.
Officers then obtained surveillance video showing a fight prior to the shooting. Battees allegedly could be seen raising a gun and firing into the crowd, with J.K.A. in his sight line. The victim could be seen falling to the ground, with Battees firing off another round before leaving.
Battees declined to speak to investigators and was taken to Arrowhead Juvenile Center. Sixth Judicial District Judge David Johnson on Monday ordered him to remain in custody until his next hearing on June 3.
Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Amy Lukasavitz simultaneously filed a motion to have Battees certified as an adult.
Under Minnesota law, it is presumed a juvenile will be certified as an adult if the juvenile was 16 or 17 at the time of the offense and if the offense would result in a presumptive prison sentence. The child can keep the case in juvenile court and overcome the presumption of adult certification by demonstrating clear and convincing evidence that retaining the proceedings in juvenile court serves public safety.
While the case still remains in juvenile court, the records and proceedings are public because Battees is at least 16 years old and facing a felony-level charge.
Suspect has several prior charges
Battees was previously linked to a drive-by shooting in Duluth that led to a high-speed chase into Superior last summer. After a 32-year-old suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds in the Harbor Highlands area on July 31, Superior police found a Toyota 4Runner matching a description given by witnesses as it traveled along Belknap Street near the Bong Bridge.
According to documents filed in Douglas County Circuit Court, the driver, Battees, sped away from an officer and started going more than 70 mph down Tower Avenue, pulling into a Walgreens parking lot and striking a pole, before continuing to drive in excess of 80 mph along residential streets.
The vehicle plowed through a gate at the water treatment facility on Texas Avenue, then drove through fencing into the backyard of a house on Billings Lane before getting stuck in a depression west of the Billings Park Civic Center parking lot. Battees, who was arrested, was described by officers as appearing intoxicated, and firearms and ammunition were located in the vehicle.
Records show that Battees pleaded guilty Oct. 30 to felony counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety and attempting to flee or elude an officer. He was placed on three years of probation, including nine months of jail time.
Battees has also twice been charged with felony-level offenses in Minnesota juvenile court since turning 16, according to a review of public records.
Last July, two weeks prior to the Harbor Highlands shooting, Battees and several others were accused of entering an occupied residence in Beltrami County, where authorities said the 17-year-old struck a man in the head with an AK-47-style firearm in a dispute involving a car.
The complaint, charging him with first-degree burglary and two counts of second-degree assault, also references Battees being suspected of shooting into an occupied car on the Fond du Lac Reservation on July 18.
Battees was also charged last month in Carlton County with eight offenses involving illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and controlled substances stemming from a traffic stop on Big Lake Road near the Fond du Lac Gas and Grocery store.
Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken issued a statement on the incident Monday.
“Any loss of life is significant,” Tusken said. “The victim was someone’s son. He was someone’s friend. This is a tragedy for his family, and for those who knew him. This act also impacts the sense of safety in our community.”
Tusken added that it was an example of guns being used to "solve conflict instead of alternative non-violent methods," and that the police department works to take guns off the streets every day. Since the incident, the department has increased its presence in the downtown area, Tusken said. This is the 14th shooting event which has taken place in Duluth this year.
This story was updated at 6:20 p.m. May 24 with information from the Duluth Police Department. It was originally posted at 12:56 p.m. May 24.