Man found guilty of attempted murder in Duluth ambush shooting

The case was deeply connected to a Bemidji-area killing, and a woman charged in the Duluth shooting has also pleaded guilty to another murder.

courtroom gavel

DULUTH — A man has been found guilty of his role in a Central Hillside neighborhood ambush shooting that has ties to two northwestern Minnesota homicides.

A Duluth jury last week convicted Seneca Warrior Steeprock, 41, of Jordan, Minnesota, of aiding and abetting the attempted premeditated first-degree murder of Cameron Maurice Jones, who was shot at least eight times in December 2020. The panel also found Steeprock, a convicted felon, guilty of illegally possessing a firearm.

Seneca Warrior Steeprock.jpg
Seneca Warrior Steeprock

A second alleged shooter, Alexia Gah Gi Gay Mary Cutbank, 21, of Duluth, still awaits trial in the case. However, she has since pleaded guilty in federal court to an August 2019 murder on the Red Lake Indian Reservation and faces significant prison time.

The attempt on Jones' life was believed to be connected to yet another Bemidji-area homicide, committed by Cutbank's brother in November 2020. The victim in that case was 29-year-old Charles "Chucky" Kingbird. But according to court documents, Jones and Montana Cutbank had a "contentious history," and Jones' family believed he — not Kingbird — was the intended victim of that shooting.

Court documents indicate Jones, then 20, of Cass Lake, Minnesota, was lying prone on a bed when Steeprock and Alexia Cutbank burst in and fired more than a dozen shots in an attack that had been discussed in advance with Montana Cutbank.


The victim of last week's shooting in Duluth's Central Hillside still has several bullets lodged in his body and may have been the intended victim of a November homicide in Beltrami County, according to court documents.

A Duluth police officer found a woman dragging Jones along a sidewalk near the apartment, 1 W. Fourth St., on the afternoon of Dec. 29, 2020. He was unable to provide information at the time, but a woman indicated that two suspects had entered an upper apartment and apparently fired multiple guns. She added that Jones received a call immediately beforehand and seemed to know the perpetrators.

Hospital staff stated that the victim had been shot approximately eight or nine times. Two bullets had been removed from his body, but others were not deemed safe to remove. Another bullet was recovered from Jones' clothing, while officers found 14 casings in the apartment and several bullets lodged in the floor and walls of a bedroom, according to the criminal complaints.

Alexia Gahgigay Mary Cutbank.jpg
Alexia Gahgigay Mary Cutbank

Police said they determined Jones arrived in Duluth on Dec. 27 and had made contact with a relative and with Cutbank — something that had concerned Jones' family. Relatives reportedly told police that they believed Montana Cutbank had attempted to kill Jones during a meeting in November, but Kingbird went in his place and was executed.

Montana Cutbank, 23, had been charged earlier that month with intentional second-degree murder. He subsequently pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 31 years in prison.

Investigators at the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force reportedly confirmed to Duluth police that Montana Cutbank was rumored to have "an issue" with Jones, and the complaints state that Alexia Cutbank was heard telling her brother in a jail call that she was "going to set someone up and knows where he is at." That call allegedly took place less than two hours before Jones was shot.

In subsequent calls, the siblings allegedly spoke cryptically, with Alexia Cutbank stating that "she took care of that thing," and mentioning that Steeprock was present. Montana Cutbank then placed a call to another woman, asking her to check on an obituary for Jones, according to court documents.

Montana Oshki Ayaabe Cutbank.jpg
Montana Oshki Ayaabe Cutbank

Police said they found Jones' car at the Gateway Tower Apartments in downtown Duluth and arrested Cutbank and Steeprock as they attempted to get into the vehicle.

Court documents state that a 9 mm handgun was found in Cutbank's purse, and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension firearm testing indicated the weapon was responsible for firing seven of the shell casings located at the shooting scene.


Two pistol holders were also discovered in the apartment where Cutbank had been staying, and another firearm was found buried in snow where Steeprock initially tried to flee police, according to court documents. The gun also allegedly was consistent with evidence seized at the crime scene.

In yet another jail call to her brother after the shooting, Cutbank allegedly referred to Steeprock by name, expressing uncertainty over whether he was a "rat" and explicitly stating that he was a "shooter," Judge Leslie Beiers noted in an order declining to dismiss Steeprock's charges, also pointing to the firearm evidence and witness statements regarding two shooters.

Beiers ordered an investigation of Steeprock's background ahead of sentencing April 10. He has an extensive criminal history, including numerous assaults.

Cutbank faces an April 21 pretrial hearing in the case — three days after she is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court for the killing of Daniel Alan Johnson, 23, in Red Lake. The U.S. Attorney's Office said Cutbank was accompanied by two other people when she entered a garage where Johnson was living, shooting him multiple times and wounding a second victim.

Cutbank pleaded guilty last September to second-degree murder and assault resulting in serious bodily injury. She could spend approximately 17-27 years in federal prison, per the calculations in a plea agreement.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or
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