St. Paul man charged with second-degree murder in fatal University Ave. shooting

St. Paul police at the scene of a fatal shooting on the 400 block of University Avenue West.  (FOX 9)

A 22-year-old man has been charged in connection with the fatal shooting on University Avenue in St. Paul on Wednesday. 

E’shaun Maurice Funches, of St. Paul, has been charged with one count of second-degree murder with intent and one count of second-degree murder while committing a felony. 

According to the charges, at 2:50 p.m. on Dec. 13, officers responded to Sunrise Grocery and Tobacco store on University Avenue in St. Paul. There, they found 30-year-old Alfonzo Armstead lying in the street with multiple gunshot wounds. 

Officers gave Armstead medical aid, who had gunshot wounds to his leg, back and abdomen, court documents said. As officers were checking for more injuries, a bullet fell out of his waistband. Armstead then tried to sit up and said, "I can’t breathe," and fell unconscious, charges allege. Armstead was taken to Regions Hospital, where he later died. 

According to court documents, Armstead’s girlfriend told police Armstead had been jumped by three men in front of the store. 

Video surveillance captured the shooter, later identified as Funches, wearing all black getting out of a black Nissan Rogue, the charges said. Video shows Funches walking toward Armstead, who was standing outside the store. As Armstead’s back was turned, Funches opened fire and then fled on foot. 

As Funches fled, an unmarked police car spotted him walking with black pants on and carrying black clothing, charges allege. The officer watched as Funches tried to get rid of the clothing in a dumpster at a church on 451 Central Ave. Funches couldn't open the dumpster, so he walked away carrying the clothing, according to court documents. The officer who was watching him stopped Funches, who dropped his clothing and tried to walk away. But, he was taken into custody. 

Charges say a canine tracked the gun used in the shooting, which officers found in a plastic bag under a pile of leaves. Funches was arrested while coming from the direction where the gun was found. Some of the casings found in the gun match the casings found at the scene of the shooting. 

Funches agreed to speak with investigators, but he denied having anything to do with Armstead’s killing, charges said. He claims he found the clothing he was trying to discard and was trying to throw away candy wrappers in the church dumpster. Eventually, he asked for a lawyer. 

Investigators spoke with the owner of the Nissan Rogue, who was riding in the passenger's seat, and the person who was driving it. Both said they had known Funches for a while and Funches asked them for a ride the day of the shooting. They picked him up and drove him to the scene, court documents allege. 

The vehicle owner said Funches got out of the car with a gun in his hand and shot Armstead, court documents state, adding she got out of the car to check on the man, but didn’t know what to do. The driver, the boyfriend of the vehicle's owner, said he knew he had to call the police. They ended up driving away from the scene and did not pick up Funches after the shooting. The driver said he was distraught Funches would put them in this situation. 

Funches is currently in custody and made his first court appearance in the Ramsey County District Court on Friday morning. He has a prior conviction for aggravated robbery.