Pot deal gone wrong leads to St. Paul's first homicide of year

Antonio Seals (right) has been charged in connection with the murder of Devonte Coppage (left).
Antonio Seals (right) has been charged in connection with the murder of Devonte Coppage (left).
Devonte photo from Facebook via The Adventures of Johnny Northside blog

Last Friday, 22-year-old north Minneapolis resident Devonte Coppage became St. Paul's first homicide victim of 2014.

SEE ALSO: St. Paul pot dealer shot by customer upset about the "bad weed" he'd sold him

According to authorities, Coppage was shot to death around 6:30 p.m. during a pot deal gone awry in the parking lot of a BP station at 1200 White Bear Avenue.

Coppage's brother accompanied him on the trip to buy marijuana, but only Coppage entered a car to complete the transaction. Shortly after he got in the vehicle, Coppage's brother heard a series of gunshots, and when he approached the car to see what was going on he saw that his brother had been hit. Devonte was pronounced dead at the scene from his injures.

The murder suspect, 18-year-old St. Paul resident Antonio Seals, was tracked down by officers at Regions Hospital and arrested with a bullet in his arm. Questioned by police, Seals confessed to shooting Coppage, but said Coppage shot him first. Investigators later determined, however, that the .38-caliber bullet lodged in Seals's arm likely came from the same handgun used to shoot Coppage multiple times.

Though it's unclear exactly what happened in the car during the moments before shots rang out, it sounds as though Seals may have opened fire because he mistakenly thought Coppage, who was unarmed at the time, shot him. The Pioneer Press, citing the criminal complaint, explains:

Antonio Seals told a homicide investigator that [another man he was with at Regions] drove him to the station and he'd planned to sell a "zip of weed" to Coppage for $300, but that the others in the car didn't know he had a gun, the complaint said.

Coppage put his hand in his jacket and acted as if he was going to pull money out, Seals told the investigator. "At the same time Coppage opened the door and 'he just shot me,' " Seals said. "Seals said Coppage hopped out of the car and he shot Coppage."

The investigator said of Coppage, "He didn't pull out a gun."

Seals said, "So why would he run out of the car?" and requested a lawyer, the complaint said.

Seals has been charged with second-degree unintentional homicide. As this is written nobody else has been charged in connection with the incident.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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