Ramone Smaller faces 10 felonies from shootouts connected to St. Paul gang feud
Ramone Smaller's mugshot
Around 3:22 a.m. last October 24, a St. Paul home on the 800 block of Carroll Avenue lived in by two sisters, one 72 and the other 69, was sprayed by at least 18 bullets. The sisters said they had no idea why they were targeted, though neighbors later told them it was because the shooters wanted to kill one of the women's grandsons who wasn't living there but visited occasionally.
Then, just after midnight on October 29, a shootout involving two vehicles on West Lake Street in Minneapolis was reported, authorities say in court documents filed today. A witness said one was a Chevy Tahoe. That vehicle was later spotted driving down Interstate 94 and was pulled over near Huron Boulevard. A .40 caliber handgun was found inside the Tahoe, and the grandson who was reportedly the target of the Carroll Avenue shooting was one of its passengers.
Pot deal gone wrong leads to St. Paul's first homicide of year
In connection with that shootout, two .40 caliber shell casings were found near a SuperAmerica on West Lake Street. Surveillance footage indicated the other car involved was a dark Kia Optima.
About two hours after the West Lake Street shootout, a home on the 600 block of Stryker Avenue in St. Paul was sprayed by at least 14 bullets. Later that same day, a man named Ramone Smaller had a rear window in his Kia Optima replaced at Harmon Glass in Roseville. He told a technician the "window was shot out," court documents say.
Late the next day, October 30, a witness reported seeing two cars firing at each other near Hall and Baker Avenues in St. Paul, just two blocks away from the Stryker Avenue home that was shot up the day before. A witness described one of the vehicles involved as a dark blue Kia Optima. Forty shell casings were found at the scene.
On Halloween, Smaller was arrested driving a Kia Optima. A bullet hole was spotted near the rear deck of the car. A subsequent search of his residence at 2838 Fremont Avenue South in Minneapolis (that's the address of the swanky Flux Apartments in Uptown) turned up a Glock 23 and an extended magazine for holding 30 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition. A .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun was found in the Optima stashed in a hiding place under the driver's seat.
Casings found at all of the above shooting scenes were later determined to have been fired from a Glock 23. In addition, Smaller's DNA was found on the gun, prosecutors say.
Prosecutors claim Smaller is affiliated with the Gotta Havit gang.
(For more, click to page two.)
"This is a clique of the long standing Selby Side gang in St. Paul with its roots in the Frogtown area," the charges say. "Based on reliable intelligence, direct accounts and informants, it is known that this clique, the Gotta Havit, is in an on-going feud with the Hustle Made Mafia gang, a clique of the Selby Side gang." (The grandson mentioned above is a member of Hustle Made Mafia, prosecutors say.)
Investigators say the two men targeted in the Stryker Avenue shooting are members of Gotta Havit. Based on the charges, it's not clear why Smaller would allegedly fire at two members of his own gang.
The charges say the feud between the factions intensified when a man named Kaleef Barnes was shot seven times while he was being robbed of marijuana last July. A Ramsey County courts official tells us Smaller was arrested and charged with attempted murder connection with that incident in July but posted $250,000 bond and was released from custody in September. He remained free until January, a month after he pleaded guilty and began serving his 6-year sentence.
Smaller was charged with 10 additional felonies -- including four counts of second-degree assault, three counts of drive-by discharge of firearm, two counts of crime committed for benefit of a gang, and one count of dangerous discharge of firearm -- in connection with the October shootings.
In a separate but related development announced during a news conference today, St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith said Officer Ruby Diaz has been placed on leave because she allegedly used someone else's identity to funnel money to Smaller in prison. Diaz and Smaller allegedly had a relationship. Charges in connection with the money funneling are expected today, with Hennepin County authorities set to handle Diaz's prosecution.
To read the charges against Smaller for yourself, click to page three.
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