South St. Paul man sentenced for part in deadly St. Paul funeral home gunfight

A South St. Paul man has been sentenced to three years of probation and 90 days in the county workhouse for taking part in a deadly gun battle outside a St. Paul funeral home, where a family was mourning a relative fatally shot less than three weeks earlier that month in the city.

Jesus Hernandez, 22, was one of four men charged with second-degree assault in connection with the Feb. 21, 2022, shooting at Simple Traditions by Bradshaw funeral home on the West Side.

Jesus Hernandez (Courtesy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

The shooting, which claimed the life of 28-year-old Agustin Martinez of Crystal, happened as mourners were gathered for the funeral for Casanova Carter, 26, who was killed at his West Side home on Feb. 1, 2022.

Four other men were wounded in the funeral home gunfight, and houses and vehicles were struck by bullets.

Murder charges have not been filed in Martinez’s death. A spokesperson for the Ramsey County attorney’s office said at the time charges were filed that they were “at the highest level possible that we felt could be sustained at trial given the evidence provided to us from law enforcement.”

Hernandez pleaded guilty in March. Ramsey County District Judge Joy Bartscher on Friday gave him a downward departure from state sentencing guidelines, staying a three-year prison term in favor of probation. She sentenced him to 152 days in the county workhouse, with 62 days credit for time already served and the remaining days on electronic home monitoring. His start date is Nov. 14.

Two other men were sentenced to prison last year. Bryan Lara-Saavedra, a 26-year-old Minneapolis man who police say fired the first shot, was given a three-year term in June. David Nicholas Garcia, 41, of St. Paul, who shot and wounded Lara-Saavedra, was sentenced to 27 months in prison in March.

Meanwhile, Mario Alberto Vega, 32, of St. Paul, has pleaded not guilty to the charge and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Monday.

Fistfight, then shots

Officers were sent to the funeral home at 488 Humboldt Ave. around 11:20 a.m. that day.

Martinez was wounded and lying on a sidewalk. He died at Regions Hospital of a single gunshot wound to his back.

Lara-Saavedra had gunshot wounds to his stomach and right leg. Several other men who were at the funeral home were transported to Regions with gunshot wounds.

Officers recovered bullet casings “all over the area,” the charges read.

Surveillance video shows a fistfight on the sidewalk in front of the funeral home. Martinez was involved in the fight, but he eventually walked away out of camera view.

Lara-Saavedra then pulled out a gun and shot a 36-year-old man in the neck. People scattered when the gun was fired, with some running back to the funeral home and others fleeing in the same direction as Martinez.

Garcia was seen at the entrance to the funeral home firing numerous rounds from a handgun in the direction of Martinez. Garcia then went into the funeral home.

Hernandez stood in the boulevard and allegedly fired in the direction that Martinez and others had run. Vega came out of the funeral home and also fired in the same direction, the charges allege.

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