Suspects sought in double Minneapolis homicide

Two men were found shot to death behind an apartment building.

 Last update: December 8, 2005 at 9:07 PM

A man who had seen the victims in a car behind 1818 Bryant Av. N. about 12:25 a.m. flagged down an off-duty police officer who was working as a guard at a nearby Cub Foods store on W. Broadway.

"We don't know how they got there," said Capt. Rich Stanek. "There is no clear motive. We are not ruling anything out."

Kevin J. Epps, Jr., 19, of Minneapolis, was one of the victims. The identity of the other man, a 20-year-old, apparently from Minneapolis, was being withheld until family members were notified.

Residents of the building in the Near North neighborhood said the bodies were removed from a gray car that had been seen idling behind the building for several hours before police arrived. Two men living in a house next door said they heard two shots about 10 p.m. Wednesday.

"We thought we heard muffled shots," said one of them, Todd Warnberg. He said he had seen drug dealing and heard other shots in the area in the three weeks he has been staying with a friend.

"We couldn't sleep," Warnberg said. "I am glad I am leaving."

But George Thomason, 37, who lives in the apartment building, said he and his wife heard no shots that night. "I don't like it. It is real spooky," he said. He said they had been robbed in their apartment a month ago after walking home from cashing a paycheck.

"This is a rough neighborhood, considering what we have experienced," said his wife, Trenay Hoye-Thomason.

Police records show more than 100 service calls to the two-story building this year, including calls about drugs, suspicious persons or vehicles, fights, burglaries and loud music.

"It is a challenging area," said Rowena Hicks, a police crime prevention specialist. "That block has a lot of activities on it."

She said the building manager has tried to improve it and has evicted many troublemakers. The manager calls police about suspicious activity and has asked for aggressive policing, Hicks said. She said that police have focused on the building for several months and that squad cars go past it several times a day.

The deaths were the 45th and 46th homicides in Minneapolis this year, said police spokesman Ron Reier. He said there were 50 at this time last year.