Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that Marcelino Santiago Lopez, age 19 of Maplewood, has been charged* with one count of Murder in the Second Degree (With Intent) in connection with the fatal shooting on April 2, 2020, of 17-year-old Brandon Jose Nieves, of South St. Paul. Lopez has also been charged with Attempted Murder in the Second Degree (With Intent) and Assault in the First Degree (Great Bodily Harm), in connection with the shooting of a 16-year-old male which occurred at the same time and location.
A summary of the allegations contained in the criminal complaint is set forth below:
On April 2, 2020 at approximately 1:30 p.m., South St. Paul Police officers were dispatched to a report of gunshots being fired. Upon arrival, officers located two males lying in the street, both of whom had sustained gunshot wounds. A 20-year-old male, later identified as Brandon Jose Nieves, was pronounced dead at the scene from an apparent gunshot wound to the head. A 16-year-old male was transported to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the chest, where he remains in critical condition.
Multiple witnesses were at the scene and reported seeing a lone male, later identified as Lopez, fire a shotgun at both victims before leaving northbound in a silver vehicle. Witnesses at the scene reported seeing Lopez pull up in front of a South St. Paul address in a silver SUV and another vehicle carrying the Victims and three other people pull up behind Lopez's vehicle. When the Victims and the others exited the vehicle they were in, they observed the silver SUV drive away a short distance and then stop. Lopez exited his vehicle with a shotgun and shot both Victims. Lopez fled the scene in the silver SUV. Witnesses reported that none of the people who exited the Victims' vehicle had a gun, including the Victims.
As officers were interviewing witnesses, Lopez contacted the Dakota Communications Center and reported he had just shot two people. West St. Paul police officers responded to his location and observed him in a silver SUV. Lopez was taken into custody and officers located a shotgun in the SUV.
Lopez admitted he had gone to the location where the Victims were with the intention of fighting Brandon Nieves. Lopez indicated he had arranged on social media to fight Nieves because Nieves was currently involved in a romantic relationship with Lopez's ex-girlfriend. Lopez claimed he arrived to fight Nieves and used his shotgun when he saw multiple people getting out of the car. Lopez admitted he had threatened to kill Nieves on social media several times before meeting up with him on April 2, 2020 to fight.
Additional facts pertaining to this case can be found in the criminal complaint at Criminal Complaint Search. If in custody, a mug shot can be viewed at Inmate Search.
Backstrom commented: “This appears to be another senseless act of domestic-related violence that has claimed one life and left another person seriously injured. Our sympathy is extended to family and friends of Brandon Nieves for their great loss, as is our hope for the recovery of the 16-year-old Victim now in critical condition."
Lopez made his first court appearance on these charges today and bail was set in the amount of $1,500,000 without conditions ($1,000,000 with conditions) by Judge Tim Wermager. His next court appearance was set for April 24, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. in Hastings.
Backstrom thanked the South St. Paul Police Department for their investigation of this case and the Dakota County Sheriff's Office, the West St. Paul Police Department, the Inver Grove Heights Police Department, and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension who assisted with the investigation.
If you have questions, contact James Backstrom at 651-438-4438.
*Criminal charges are not evidence of guilt. A defendant/suspect is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.