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St. Paul man pleads innocent to charges in Cass Lake shoooting

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A St. Paul man accused of firing a gun Aug. 30 in the Cass Lake town homes parking lot and injuring two people pleaded innocent to three felony charges Dec. 1 before Judge John P. Smith in Cass County District Court.

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Clarence James Dickens, 50, is charged with first- and second-degree assault and convicted felon illegally in possession of firearms. A Jan. 12 pretrial hearing was set.

According to the court complaint filed against Dickens, he was one of four people who arrived in a vehicle at the town homes about 3 a.m. Sept. 3 to visit a relative. An altercation then ensued between the occupants of the vehicle and a group of individuals who were present in the parking lot.

The suspect vehicle reportedly headed south from Cass Lake following the incident.

The Cass County Sheriff's Office identified the victims as Michael Jones, 25, of Cass Lake, and Thomas Jones, 26, of Rosemount. The victims are brothers.

The court complaint states Michael Jones was treated for gunshot wounds to his hand and leg at Cass Lake Public Health Services Hospital. Thomas Jones was airlifted to a Duluth Hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound to his groin area.

Officers located the vehicle reportedly involved in the shooting at Pine River and pursued the vehicle on state Highway 371 to the city of Pequot Lakes, where the vehicle was stopped. Four occupants in the vehicle were detained and taken to Cass County Detention Center.

In addition to Dickens, the complaint identifies those in the car as Kelly Ann Boswell, Warren Michael Rogers and Anita Joy Jordan.

Dickens and Boswell reportedly exited the vehicle in Cass Lake to smoke and so Dickens could check to see if the relative was home. They indicated to officers a number of young American Indian males were at the other end of the parking lot.

The complaint indicates Boswell told officers one of the young males ran toward them and confronted Dickens. She said Dickens indicated he did not want any trouble, but a number of young males joined in the altercation.

The male who initially confronted them then punched Dickens in the side of the head. She said Dickens fell to the ground and appeared to be bleeding from his ear, according to the complaint.

Dickens told Boswell to get in the vehicle and that they were leaving.

She said she heard multiple gunshots. Dickens hopped into the vehicle as they were leaving. She said he had a 9 mm handgun in his hand.

At some point between Cass Lake and Walker after those in the fleeing vehicle saw multiple squad cars heading north, Dickens reportedly placed the handgun in a ditch by a road sign along the highway. Officers later recovered a 9 mm handgun from that ditch.

Dickens told officers that two young males approached him, argued with him, then one punched him in the ear. He said the other young males hit him all over his body. He said he did not shoot anyone or possess a firearm, but had heard gunshots while standing in the parking lot.

He provided law enforcement officers with a drawing of the town homes parking lot and indicated where he was standing. The complaint states officers found spent shell casings of a 9 mm handgun within feet of where Dickens indicated on his drawing that he had been standing.

Michael Jones told officers he and his brother had been walking in the area and observed the altercation, but decided to walk away. At that point, he said he heard gun shots and felt pain in his calf and hand, but did not realize until later that his brother also had been shot.

The complaint states Dickens has multiple prior convictions for crimes of violence. As a convicted felon, he is ineligible to possess a firearm.

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