17-year-old charged in Bloomington hotel shooting


A 17-year-old was charged by juvenile petition with second-degree murder and prohibited person with a firearm in the shooting of a woman in a Bloomington hotel, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday.

Dequan Smith, of St. Paul, was charged in the fatal shooting of 39-year-old Jennifer Swaggert. He was convicted in North Dakota earlier this year of a felony drug crime and was prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition.

Hennepin County Attorney’s Office prosecutors filed a motion to have Smith certified as an adult. In addition, his mother, Trimeanna Williams, was charged with aiding Smith after the murder. An additional charge of prohibited person in possession of a firearm was filed against Williams Tuesday. She has been convicted of three offenses preventing her from having a gun.

According to the juvenile petition, on July 12 around 11:51 a.m., a housekeeper for LaQuinta Hotel found Swaggert dead from what the autopsy determined was a single gunshot to the face.

Investigators learned that the room had been rented from July 9 – 12. On July 13, Williams called the hotel and said she wanted to come by and retrieve the belongings she left behind. Hotel management contacted police, who eventually spoke with Williams learning that she stayed at the hotel with her children on July 11 through the early morning on July 12, the petition states.

Williams told police that she was in the room with her “best friend” Swaggert. Also in the room were Williams’ three sons, including Smith, and three other teenagers who were friends of Smith.

The various witnesses said at some point during the day of July 11, Williams had a gun and fired a shot outside in the air. Later, Smith was fighting with Swaggert because she would not give Williams money to pay for a storage unit. As he pointed the gun at her, Swaggert asked Williams if she was going to let her son shoot her. Williams told Smith not to shoot Swaggert, but seconds later, he did, according to the petition.

Williams then told everyone in the room to leave. They all headed to a nearby gas station where Williams ordered a car to take the group to south Minneapolis where witnesses say they disposed of the gun, the petition states.

Criminal Complaint (PDF)