Ezeka guilty on all counts in fatal shooting of Birdell Beeks


A Hennepin County District Court jury found Joshua Ezeka guilty of all five counts in the shooting death of 58-year-old Birdell Beeks, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday.

Joshua Chiazor Ezeka, 21, was found guilty of aiding and abetting premeditated murder in the first-degree and second-degree, two counts of aiding and abetting attempted murder and one count of aiding and abetting second-degree assault. Beeks, an innocent victim, was shot in the chest while sitting in her minivan at a stop sign and died later in the hospital from the injuries she sustained. Ezeka will be sentenced Feb. 26 and will receive life in prison without parole, which is automatic when convicted of first-degree murder.

“We appreciate the fine work of this jury in quickly returning the guilty verdict on all counts,” Freeman said. “The verdict brings justice to the family and, just maybe, a gang member will think twice before shooting his gun. But there is no joy for us. A wonderful woman is still dead and a very young man will never be anything but a prisoner identification number.”

According to evidence and testimony in court, on May 26, 2016, Beeks and her 16-year-old granddaughter were in their car at the intersection of 21st and Penn Avenues North when Ezeka fired his gun nine times at a rival gang member’s car. One of the bullets struck and killed Beeks.

In court, a fellow “lows” gang member of Ezeka’s, testified that he had called Ezeka to say a member of “the highs,” was in the area near Ezeka’s house. Ezeka admitted that he ran outside to a vacant lot and fired his gun at the rival’s gold Toyota. Some of the bullets struck that car and one bullet struck Beeks. 

The driver of the Toyota testified that he was in his girlfriend’s car with her daughter in the backseat when he heard the gun shots. Beeks’ granddaughter testified that she saw someone in another car duck down, swerve and drive off. Her grandmother’s last words to her were “Baby, they got me.”

The jury did not believe Ezeka’s claim that he was only trying to scare the rival gang member when he shot at his car.