Early morning robbery attempt leaves woman hospitalized, two arrested

Two men have been arrested after a robbery attempt in the city of Newport that left a woman hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

According to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, shortly after 7 a.m. on May 14 police received a call to an apartment complex on the 1700 block of Eighth Avenue for an adult woman who had been shot and was bleeding from the abdomen. 

A male resident at the apartment told investigators he was woken by a knock on the door, according to authorities.

Thinking it could be a neighbor, he let two men inside. Once inside he noticed one of the suspects was wearing a full facemask and the other pulled a large handgun – which he then pressed to the victim’s head.

Hearing a commotion, the female occupant approached the suspects, who then fired one shot that struck her in the abdomen. She retreated to the bathroom where she remained until deputies arrived, while the suspects proceeded to move throughout the apartment gathering the victims’ money, cell phone and BB gun. 

Surveillance cameras from the apartment and neighboring residents allowed investigators to identify Justus Wright, 37, of Buffalo, and Donald Ealey, 31, of St. Paul as suspects. 

Wright was arrested later that afternoon and taken into custody with help from the Wright County Sheriff’s Office.

Ealey was arrested several days later after investigators used footage from Minnesota Department of Transportation traffic cameras to track the vehicle immediately following the shooting as it traveled to Ealey’s neighborhood in St. Paul.

Both Wright and Earley have appeared in Washington County District Court on charges of first-degree assault, first-degree aggravated robbery, and second-degree firearm assault. They remain in custody at the Washington County Jail in Stillwater on $400,000 bail.

The female victim remains hospitalized in serious, but stable condition. Wright and Ealey are expected to make their next court appearance in early June.