(FOX 9) - Police are trying to solve a complicated puzzle after a gun is linked to multiple shootings, including the unsolved killing of 6-year-old Aniya Allen in Minneapolis.
Patrick Dembley has admitted to carrying a gun at a Northeast Minneapolis bar last year when he shot and injured a man. Police say at least one casing from the same weapon was found in the area where Aniya Allen was killed only days later. During a virtual court hearing on Tuesday, Dembley was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for seriously injuring the man right outside Mayslack’s Bar & Grill in May of 2021. The victim was shot in the groin and suffered a fractured knee after Dembley fired two rounds, according to court documents.
Dembley had skipped out on a prior sentencing, cutting off his home electronic ankle monitoring device while avoiding authorities for several weeks. But on Tuesday he told the judge he was anxious to eventually get home to his kids.
"I just want to apologize to the victim and I feel bad for it. I am just ready to take the consequences that come with my actions and I'm just ready to get it over with," he said.
But Allen’s loved ones desperately want to know more about Dembley’s potential connection to the shooting that claimed the young child that very same week last year. Allen was an innocent victim caught up in a barrage of gunfire near 36th and Penn Avenue North while she ate McDonald’s in the backseat of the family car.
"My family has been begging and pleading for over a year now for you to find it in your hearts, to turn these individuals in," K.G. Wilson, Allen’s grandfather, told FOX 9. "I don’t know if it’s this person or another person."
In a search warrant issued last year, Minneapolis homicide detectives claimed forensic evidence found at the scene of Allen’s shooting – specifically a spent 9mm shell casing – came from the same gun used outside Mayslack’s.
Is Dembley the gunman in both? Or did he know who had the firearm when Allen was killed? No one addressed these questions in court Tuesday, and Minneapolis police haven't commented yet either. It is unclear from public records whether the gun fired the fatal round that killed the child or whether several gunmen were in the area at the same time.
Aniya Allen, 6, was shot in the head while she was in a vehicle in north Minneapolis on May 17, 2021. (Family)
"I'm angry and I’m furious. I'm frustrated, and I'm hurt," said Wilson, a well-known Twin Cities anti-violence advocate. "That's a dangerous secret that they're holding in and keeping."
Dembley’s sentencing was part of a plea agreement with the prosecutor. In exchange for his guilty plea, the state agreed to drop a separate weapons and threats case against the 24-year old.