2 charged in attempted murder of Minneapolis forensic scientist

A man and his girlfriend have been charged in a shooting that injured a City of Minneapolis forensic scientist last month. 

Timothy Amacher, 41, of St. Paul, and his girlfriend Colleen Larson, 24, of St. Paul, have been charged in connection to the shooting of 33-year-old Nicole "Nicki" Lenway on April 20. Larson is charged with first-degree attempted murder, while Amacher is charged with first-degree attempted murder and aiding an offender. 

Amacher and Lenway have a 5-year-old son together but Lenway has full custody of the child, charges state. The shooting happened when Lenway went to pick up her son from a supervised visit with Amacher at FamilyWise, a family support center, around 7:33 p.m. on April 20. 

According to the criminal complaints, Minneapolis police responded to FamilyWise, on Malcolm Avenue near University Avenue Southeast, where they found Lenway suffering from gunshot wounds to the right side of her neck and right forearm. 

A witness, who was caring for Lenway, said the shooting happened in the parking lot, charges said. The suspect ran up behind Lenway, put an object to Lenway’s neck and then the witness heard two bangs before running away. 

Police recovered three .380 discharged cartridge cases and three .380 live rounds on the ground, charges said. 

Lenway was transported to the hospital, where she was treated for a through-and-through gunshot to her arm and a gunshot wound to her neck, which caused "numerous internal injuries," including a perforated lung, the complaint said. She remains hospitalized but it appears she will survive. 

Lenway told police what happened via writing (she couldn’t speak due to her injuries), saying she was at the supervised parenting center to pick up her 5-year-old child whom she shares custody with Amacher, charges state. Amacher and the child were inside the building when Lenway was shot. 

Family court orders restrict when Amacher can have contact with the child, with supervised visitation only between them, prohibiting any contact between Amacher and the victim. 

Minneapolis police investigate along University Avenue on April 20. (FOX 9)

People at the parenting center told police the shooter might be Amacher’s girlfriend, Larson, the complaint states.

Surveillance video from the parking lot of the parenting center shows Lenway in her vehicle waiting to pick up her son. Then, a woman, later identified as Larson, got out of a truck, which police later learned Amacher bought in January, and hid behind a fence until Lenway got out of her vehicle and approached the center. That’s when Larson raised a gun at Lenway, with the shooting happening "just outside the camera view," charges allege. 

Police interviewed Amacher the evening of the shooting, during which he described how he’s a victim of family court, the MPD and Lenway’s behavior, charges said. When asked if he had an idea who would have shot Lenway, he said "absolutely," claiming it must be related to Lenway’s job as a forensic scientist with the MPD. 

Investigators searched Amacher and Larson’s home in St. Paul, finding multiple guns but no .380. However, they did find several .380 discharged cartridge cases, with the crime lab determining they were fired from the same gun as the .380 discharged cartridge cases at the scene of the shooting, the complaint says.

In an interview with Larson, she denied being involved and said she was at her home in St. Paul at the time of the shooting, charges state.

The criminal complaint says Lenway and Amacher’s relationship history includes domestic violence, extreme harassment and stalking behavior by Amacher over the last few years. Between 2019-2022, Amacher made 10 reports to police that Lenway and her boyfriend were abusing the child but all the reports were deemed unfounded. During the investigation, the child told a social worker Amacher had told him to lie about being abused. 

Court records show in March of this year, Amacher’s visitation had been further restricted to supervised contact only and he had been ordered to pay visitation costs. 

In February 2022, Amacher propositioned one of his friends to kill Lenway for $50,000, charges said.

Court documents request high bail for both Amacher and Larson, citing Amacher’s "affinity for firearms," which suggest that if they are released they would pose a "significant risk to" Lenway and the public.