Road Kill

Their cars were moving when James Lundquist and William Anderson opened fire on strangers. But was anyone at the wheel?

While Lundquist guarded the boys and chatted with them, Tony and Billy prowled the house looking for items to steal. They found some jewelry, a shotgun, and more than $100 in cash. "Tony asked them if there was any handguns in the house," Lundquist explained, "and they were like, 'Yeah, look upstairs, under my dad's bed.' But they couldn't find it, and they were like mad. But I was just kickin'. There was no need to get outrageous, because they were about our age and stuff. So I just said, 'Forget it.'"

Detective Reitan confirms Lundquist's version of events. "It was a crime of opportunity," he says, "and pretty good-natured, most of the time. The one kid shot at the ceiling, and Lundquist did wave that laser-sighted pistol around. The victims remembered that."

Lundquist wasn't in such a casual mood the night MacPhee was killed. Omar Montez, 16, was with Lundquist and Nadeau as they drove around St. Paul. He told police Lundquist got enraged when he asked to get out of the car. "I'll kill you," Lundquist allegedly screamed as he wheeled around and leveled the pistol. Montez saw the red beam flash in his face. He thought Lundquist actually pulled the trigger, but the gun jammed.

A short time later the three spotted Samir Elkhoury, a Southeast Minneapolis restaurant owner, getting into his pickup in a Dinkytown parking lot. They tailed him down University with Lundquist at the wheel.

Lundquist pulled alongside Elkhoury, glaring, then dropped behind again, flashing his lights. As Elkhoury entered I-94 and proceeded eastbound Lundquist crowded him, sometimes swerving to within inches of the driver's side door. "I had a funny feeling," Elkhoury told police. "I did not know whether the driver was going to shoot me or not." Elkhoury had the presence of mind to get off the freeway in downtown St. Paul and drive straight to the police station. It was about 1:15 a.m. when he pulled up in front of the Public Safety Building.

Lundquist abandoned the chase and continued east on 11th Street, then looped back west on Seventh, where he encountered Laurens Matton and Laura MacPhee. He began playing the same game of road chicken with Matton, and a few minutes later MacPhee was dead.

Matton said he saw a flash of red just before the window shattered. According to Tony Nadeau's police statement, Lundquist pounded the steering wheel and yelled, "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" after the shooting.

They ditched the stolen car in Lauderdale. All three were arrested in St. Anthony early that same morning, trying to steal another vehicle.

Ramsey County prosecutor Eric Johnson has read hundreds of pages of psychological and investigative reports about Lundquist. "He appears to have little regard for life, his own or anyone else's," says Johnson. "He had many run-ins with the legal system and never learned a thing.

"It's no secret that kids who get in the kind of trouble he's in usually come from homes that thwart their development. Did the system fail him, as his mother claims? I can tell you there were a number of interventions in their life by both Child Protection and Juvenile Court, and several resulted in treatment-oriented placements. He sabotaged every attempt. Plenty of people who come from circumstances like his and worse don't kill. Or at least they kill for a reason."

Ironically, it was Lundquist's lack of a reason that may have helped ensure he'll be out of prison before the age of 35. Had he been found guilty of first-degree murder, he probably would have gotten life. But that would have required prosecutors to prove premeditation--and that, says Johnson, was not possible. "Premeditation can take place in a moment, yes. But our experience is that local juries equate it with longer reflection, plots, gang hits, that kind of thing. The period of time between the initial encounter and the fatal shot in this case was roughly three minutes, and his confession [during plea-bargain negotiations] was all about the gun 'going off accidentally.'"

As it was, Lundquist was charged under a 1996 law that stiffened the penalty for killings committed by drive-by shooters. He pleaded guilty. His 25-year sentence could be over in 16 years.

If Lundquist succeeded at nothing, Anderson did well at just about everything. He served on a task force that helped set up a teen court in St. Paul's north suburbs. He played guitar in a rock band, and sang one of his own compositions at his high-school commencement. He aspired to be either a minister or a lawyer.

Not long before the shooting Anderson was born again. His faith, says his friend Andy Pyle, was not the giddy, proselytizing type. "He wasn't a weirdo. He didn't try to talk me into anything."

Yet Anderson had a dark side as well. He had a drinking problem, says Pyle, and "some problems at home too, but he never discussed that with me."

According to police records, Anderson got into some unspecified trouble as a juvenile. "He started drinking when he was 13," says a friend, who asked not to be identified. "Any trouble he got into related to that." Anderson's father told investigators that his son struggled with drugs, and was a different kid when he was using.

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