MINNEAPOLIS – A 20-year-old man who showed up at a Minneapolis homeowner's door "frantic, paranoid" and pleading for help was charged Monday with fatally shooting the homeowner who was trying to assist him.
Devon Parker of Minneapolis was charged in Hennepin County with one count of second-degree intentional murder in the death of Thomas Sonnenberg, a 69-year-old retired technician who was killed with his own gun in his home shortly before noon Friday.
Sonnenberg let Parker into his house and called 911 after Parker knocked on the back door and claimed someone with a bat was chasing him, the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1ett2Qj) reported. According to the complaint, Sonnenberg's wife, Elaine, was also home and told police that Parker appeared "frantic, paranoid and in some sort of distress."
A police officer who came to the home got no answer but looked through a window and saw Thomas Sonnenberg's body slumped over a kitchen chair. Officer Eric Lukes kicked and beat at the rear door until Elaine Sonnenberg called out, saying she could not unlock it.
The officer then saw Parker come up behind Elaine Sonnenberg and place his hands on her shoulders, the complaint says. The officer ordered Parker down to the floor at gunpoint, and Elaine Sonnenberg unlocked the door for the officer, who arrested Parker.
Thomas Sonnenberg had been shot once in the head, the complaint said. He wore a holster for a gun on his right hip, but the gun was missing.
Elaine Sonnenberg told police she had heard Parker ask her husband for a gun, knife, hat and gloves. She then heard one gunshot.
Parker came out of the kitchen brandishing her husband's revolver, she told police. He eventually told her to lock them both in an upstairs bedroom, but they came back down when they heard noises.
Investigators recovered the victim's gun underneath the bed in the upstairs bedroom.
Parker, who was on probation for a felony assault in 2011, remained jailed Monday. Prosecutors did not know if Parker had an attorney yet. A court appearance is set for Tuesday.
Rachel Sonnenberg Baufield said Saturday that for years, she and her two sisters had begged their parents to move away from what they saw as an increasingly risky block, but her parents were trapped by an underwater mortgage.
Baufield said her father, an Army veteran, was kindhearted, unable to turn away people who came to his doorstep.
"There have been other people who have come to my dad and begged for help, and my dad gave them money because he didn't want people hurting," she said. "And this is the repayment that he gets."
Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com