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Arrest made in St. Paul homicide that led to warrant, police shooting of Amir Locke

Police say once the 17-year-old suspect is charged in the January homicide, search warrants will be unsealed. Those warrants could shine a light on Locke's case.

ST PAUL, Minn. — St. Paul police say a 17-year-old is in custody in connection with a January homicide that triggered the no-knock warrant that eventually led to the fatal police shooting of Amir Locke.

The department confirmed that Mekhi Speed was arrested in Winona for the death of Otis Elder, who was shot and killed Jan. 10 on the 500 block of North Prior Ave. The teen was booked on probable cause second-degree murder, and is being held in the Ramsey County Juvenile Detention Center. 

Court documents filed early Tuesday say Speed is Amir Locke's cousin. 

In a juvenile petition, prosecutors lay out how witnesses told investigators that Elder was conducting a drug transaction when one person got into the front seat of his SUV, while a second approached the drivers side of the vehicle and shot Elder. The men escaped in a Mercedes that was later found to be stolen, and linked to multiple crimes. 

Credit: Facebook
Photos of Otis Elder. St. Paul police say 17-year-old Mekhi Speed was arrested on probable cause murder, in the Jan. 10 death of Elder.

The Mercedes was later recovered from the Leamington parking ramp in Minneapolis. According to the complaint, investigators used MnDOT cameras to track that vehicle in the moments after the fatal St. Paul shooting, and traced it to the Bolero Flats apartment complex in downtown Minneapolis. A witness at the apartments identified Mekhi Speed, who matched the description of one of those at the shooting scene, as a resident who lived in the complex with his mother in one apartment but often visited his brother in another unit on the seventh floor. 

Prosecutors say Minneapolis police were planning to execute a warrant on the morning of Feb. 2 to search for Speed and two of his associates for probable cause murder. They executed the warrant on unit 701 first, as computer records at the complex showed that Speed frequently used a key fob registered to that apartment. Inside, the petition says, officers found the Speed's brother, his girlfriend and Amir Locke, who was fatally shot when SWAT officers spotted a gun.  

The court documents also say SWAT team members executed a warrant on the mother's apartment, but neither she or Mekhi Speed were there. Multiple items of evidence were recovered from both apartments, according to prosecutors.

Investigators attempted to locate the juvenile suspect for several days, contacting his mother, his parole agent and conducting surveillance on the Bolero Flats apartments. On Sunday, Feb. 6, Speed was located in Winona. The criminal petitions says he attempted to run from officers, but was caught and arrested. Police say they found a loaded weapon inside Speed's coat, which appears to be the same one worn by the gunman in surveillance tape of the St. Paul murder.

Early Tuesday, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office filed a petition to have Mekhi Speed certified to be charged and stand trial as an adult. "Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes Section 260B.125.3, there is a presumption that retaining the proceeding in juvenile court does not serve public safety," reads the petition, alluding to the fact that juvenile legal requirements and sentences are not as significant as those for adults. 

A check of Speed's criminal record shows he pleaded guilty to shooting a man in the leg in September of 2020 when he was 16 years old, and sentenced to a juvenile facility in Moorhead. After he was discharged, a judge found Speed violated his parole by failing to keep in contact with his probation officer, using drugs, not attending school and failing to attend therapy. Records show that judge sent him back home to live with his mother on electronic home monitoring, and scheduled a hearing for March 9 of this year. 

In a post on Twitter, a department spokesperson said once charges are filed, search warrants related to the case will be unsealed. That will likely shine more light on who and what Minneapolis police were looking for when they executed a search warrant for St. Paul PD at the downtown apartment complex early Feb. 2. 

On that day, SWAT officers entered the apartment and fatally shot the 22-year-old Locke, who was laying on a couch with his gun nearby. Records show Locke had a permit to carry. 

RELATED: Emotions run high after release of body cam video in deadly police shooting

Sources confirmed for KARE 11 that St. Paul police asked their counterparts in Minneapolis for help on the case, but did not ask for a no-knock warrant. But Minneapolis police did request a no-knock warrant, asking Judge Peter Cahill to sign the document. 

Locke's death has led to an outcry across the Twin Cities and the nation calling for an end to no-knock warrants, and demands for the resignations of interim Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman and Mayor Jacob Frey.

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