Charges: Man fires lawyer, shoots law clerk in St. Paul

- A 37-year-old St. Paul, Minn. man is being charged with murder for shooting a 23-year-old law clerk at a downtown law firm after he expressed anger at the way a lawyer at the firm was handling his case.

According to the charges, Ryan Peterson was being represented by a lawyer at North Star Criminal Defense, located at 370 Selby Avenue. He was "displeased with the way his case was being handled" and fired his attorney by text message on Thursday afternoon, demanding his money back.

Peterson reportedly believed the attorney was ignoring his messages.

Peterson’s former attorney and a colleague returned to his office on Selby Avenue around 4 p.m. Thursday where they found Chase Passauer, a law clerk and paralegal at the firm, dead in his chair. He had been shot approximately six times.

A friend of Peterson’s told police Peterson texted him a news story about the Selby Avenue shooting and told him he had just shot his lawyer. 

Police located Peterson near Shafer in Chisago County late Thursday night. After an 11-minute police chase, he was arrested without incident near Stillwater, Minn.

Peterson is being charged with second degree murder. He also has pending charges in Washington County for fourth degree assault and driving while intoxicated.

Statement from Ramsey County Attorney John Choi

This senseless and horrific act took the life of a promising young man in our community, and we should keep his family and loved ones in our prayers. Our office will do everything in its power to seek justice in this case. 

I am calling on all of us, as a community, to get serious about preventing tragedies like this by asking how this convicted felon was able to obtain the gun used in this murder.

Statement from North Star Criminal Defense

It is impossible to fathom or understand what happened yesterday at our office. We are working through this difficult time as best as we can. But we are grieving the loss of an incredible young man with such a bright and promising future. He wasn’t just our employee. He was our friend. Our brother. He will be missed, but never forgotten.

We ask that everyone continue to keep him and his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers at this time. They are a loving and strong family.

We would like to thank those in the criminal bar and the bench. The outreach and want to help by our colleagues from both sides of the aisle is immense. We are incredibly appreciative of this and it has helped us forge on. Despite this grieving process, our clients should be assured that we remain focused on advancing their cases.

Finally, we thank the diligent efforts made by law enforcement in the r investigation and apprehension of the suspect. They have been extremely professional, responsive, and helpful the entire time.

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