Machete-wielding man charged in fatal St. Paul garage crash

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A machete-wielding man accused of threatening the mother of his child and causing a fatal crash in St. Paul, Minnesota is now facing charges. 

Shawn Konder, 26, of St. Paul is charged with one count of third-degree murder, two counts of criminal vehicular homicide and one count of making terroristic threats.

Shortly before midnight on Friday, officers were called to an apartment on the 800 block of Blair Avenue on a report of a domestic situation. Konder had allegedly threatened the mother of his two-year-old son with a machete before taking off in his van. He led police on a short chase before crashing into a garage, trapping Lashay Whittaker, 41, inside his vehicle. 

Whittaker was taken to a nearby hospital, where he later died. 

According to the criminal complaint, the incident started earlier in the evening when Konder was watching his two-year-old son and a teenage boy while their mother was at work. The teenager told police Konder left the house several times and returned drunk.

Konder later admitted he had been drinking. Police found seven bottles of Fireball whiskey in his pants pocket. 

Around 11 p.m., the two started fighting. When the mother returned home, Konder and her teenage son were wrestling on the kitchen floor. She called her friend for help and asked Konder to leave. 

Konder left and returned five minutes later carrying an 18-inch machete, but did not threaten anyone at the time. He eventually left and got into his van. 

When the mother went to meet her friend in the alley, Konder drove up and acted as he though was going to run into their vehicle. He got out with the machete and told his son’s mother he was going to kill her. 

Konder then got back into his van and drove around the neighborhood. The friend called 911 to report that Konder had threatened the family with a machete. 

While en route to the call, officers were told Konder had taken the machete and left the residence in a van. Police spotted him driving erratically through nearby alleys with the lights off. 

One officer was nearly struck by the suspect’s vehicle while responding to the call. Officers activated their emergency lights, but the suspect did not stop. A short time later, officers heard a crash on the 800 block Sherburne Avenue.

When officers arrived at the crash scene, they saw a badly damaged garage as well as the suspect attempting to flee on foot. Konder was arrested without incident.

Konder suffered some injuries, including a cracked sternum and broken clavicle. While being transported to the hospital, Konder “laughed and referred to the incident as a cat and mouse game that he had lost,” the charges say. 

Officers discovered Whittaker trapped in a Nissan Maxima that was inside the collapsed garage. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he later died. 

Whittaker worked at a barbershop and was a married father of two. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter called his death "a loss for our entire community." 

"I've known Shay since both of our days as standout high school sprinters. He was a good man and a skilled barber who has cut our son's hair for years," Carter said in a statement. "I last saw Shay just last week in the barbershop - he was smiling and joking like always. I was devastated this weekend to hear about the horrific and preventable accident that cost him his life."

Konder said he was sorry for the victim and his family and deserved whatever he got for ruining their lives. He has a prior felony conviction for first-degree burglary. 

The community has also stepped in with a GoFundMe page for the Whittaker family, which has raised more than $2,000 of its $10,000 goal.