Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that Gabriel Alfonso Sanchez Cruz, age 42 of Minneapolis, was charged* late today with one count of Murder in the Second Degree (With Intent / Not Premeditated) in connection with the fatal shooting on January 31, 2021, of 38-year-old Bryant Jon Lutgens of Burnsville.
The following is a summary of the facts contained in the criminal complaint filed today in this case:
On February 1, 2021 around 8:00 a.m., Inver Grove Heights police officers responded to a call that a deceased male was found in a snowbank in Inver Grove Heights. The man was later identified as Bryan Lutgens (hereafter Victim) who appeared to have died of a gunshot wound to the head. The Victim did not have identification, or a cell phone and no vehicle was nearby.
Officers determined through the investigation the Victim had gone to see a female friend in Bloomington around 10:00 p.m. on January 31, 2021. He left after a short time to go pick up some money. He was driving a Jeep that was later determined to be a rental. The friend did not see him again that night and she did not receive a response the next day when she called him to wish him a happy birthday.
On February 3rd, officers made contact with the rental company and were advised that the tracking system used had located the vehicle in Minneapolis. After locating and attempting to stop the vehicle, a short pursuit ensured. During the pursuit, a gun was thrown from the vehicle and later recovered by officers. The vehicle crashed and three individuals attempted to flee on foot, including the driver, identified as Cruz. The gun that was thrown from the Victim's rental car, a 9mm semi-automatic, was later determined to be the same caliber as the one used to kill the Victim.
Also on February 3rd, Witness 2 came forward to say she was an acquaintance of Cruz and said the Victim had dropped her off at Cruz's apartment in Richfield on January 31st around 9:00 p.m. Cruz was not home at the time but gave her permission to enter his apartment, and Cruz asked if she knew if the Victim had any methamphetamine. She said she thought he did, and Cruz spoke to the Victim via the phone. The last time she spoke to the Victim was around 10:00 p.m. on January 31st. Witness 2 reported that around 11:45 p.m. on January 31st, Cruz returned to his apartment with another individual in his own vehicle. She described Cruz as acting “off", and said he was talking very fast. When she asked Cruz what was wrong, he stated he had shot the Victim. Cruz said that when he met up with the Victim, he had pulled out a gun and was going to rob the Victim. The Victim struggled as Cruz attempted to take the Victim's backpack, and the Victim fell backwards into a snowbank. Cruz said he then walked up to the Victim, shot him in the head, took his belongings, and left.
Additional facts pertaining to this case can be found in the criminal complaint at Criminal Complaint Search. While in custody, a mug shot can be viewed at Inmate Search.
Backstrom commented: “We will do all we can to obtain justice for the violent death of Bryant Lutgens who tragically died one day before his 39th birthday. Our sympathy is extended to his family and friends for their great loss."
Backstrom praised the Inver Grove Heights Police Department, and all of the other law enforcement agencies which assisted in this investigation, for their work which led to the quick apprehension of the suspect.
Gabriel Alfonso Sanchez Cruz is being held in the Dakota County jail and will make his first court appearance on these charges tomorrow in Hastings.
If you have questions, contact James Backstrom at 651-438-4440.
*Criminal charges are not evidence of guilt. A defendant/suspect is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.