Two arrested after fatal shooting in Lincoln Park
By Tom Olsen on Oct 18, 2016 at 9:34 p.m.
Two suspects are in custody after a 47-year-old Duluth man was fatally shot in the Lincoln Park business district early Tuesday.
Duluth police said the shooting was reported at 12:19 a.m. on the 2000 block of West Superior Street. The victim was taken to a local hospital and was later pronounced dead.
Police did not provide any details on the incident or identify the parties involved, but Bonnie Aase told the News Tribune that her boyfriend, Eric Burns, was the victim.
“I’m really not sure what happened,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “I’m just waiting for more answers.”
Aase said Burns left their Lincoln Park apartment earlier that evening, planning to catch the Monday Night Football game at the Bedrock Bar, where he was a regular.
It was about 4:30 a.m. that police knocked on her door, informing her about the shooting, Aase said.
“He never had any problems there,” she said. “There were nice people there. He never had an issue. He always came home.”
Orin Bernard Vann, 53, and Aaron Demetrius Humphreys, 42, were arrested early Tuesday by Duluth police. Each was booked into the St. Louis County Jail on a preliminary charge of intentional second-degree murder.
Police said the three men knew each other but did not elaborate on the nature of their relationship or what might have led to the shooting.
The scene was quiet and unremarkable on Tuesday morning, with no signs of the chaos that ensued hours earlier.
Cary Gimpel, owner of the Bedrock Bar, said the incident happened in the lot between his establishment and Curly’s Bar.
“We’re trying to revitalize the West End,” Gimpel said. “It’s senseless, and I don’t understand it.”
HOMICIDE1019c2 — Eric Burns, victim of homicide.
Aase said she had known Burns since May 2015. He grew up in the Chicago area, moving to St. Paul when he was 18 and living there until he moved to Duluth in August 2015, she said.
She said Burns did cleaning jobs and maintenance work for a living, “never missing a day.” He was an avid fisherman and enjoyed cooking, she said.
Burns was the father of eight children, one of whom died at an early age. He remained close with them, Aase said.
Aase said many neighborhood regulars knew Burns as the “Hot Dog Man” because he would bring a grill and cook-out in the Bedrock parking lot on warm summer nights.
“He was always happy, telling jokes that make you laugh until your belly hurts,” she said. “He loved life. He was always looking forward to getting up the next day. He never woke up crabby in the morning, never once. He was always, always smiling and laughing.”
Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken, who was attending a policing conference out of town, issued a statement offering condolences to the victim’s family and friends.
“Our officers responded in moments, secured the scene, summoned emergency medical services and immediately requested investigative support,” Tusken said. “The diligence and professionalism of our responding staff facilitated for quickly developing suspects and making arrests. The city of Duluth is fortunate to have a very dedicated and talented police department. We will provide additional information as we are able.”
Mark Howard, 54, is a longtime Lincoln Park resident and business owner who is preparing to open a farmer’s market called O’Ganics next spring just a few doors down from the scene of the shooting.
“West End is still good,” he said. “There’s a lot of hope here but a lot of disparity, too. With the American economy the way it is, it makes it hard. People want change. People want to bring their families down here and not hear gunshots.”
Howard noted that a “Lincoln Park Open House” event was just held on Saturday, bringing together dozens of organizations and businesses to highlight the neighborhood’s vitality.
“We just had that Ecolibrium3 event, and then this happens,” Howard said, noting the event’s sponsor agency. “There’s two types of people (in Lincoln Park) — ones that have issues with drugs and drinking and people doing whatever they can to get ahead.”
It is expected that the suspects will be arraigned in State District Court in Duluth later this week.
Court records indicate that Vann was convicted of selling a controlled substance in 1992, but his record since contains only minor citations for impaired driving and traffic offenses.
Humphreys has prior convictions for theft, robbery, theft of a motor vehicle and domestic assault.
He also was arrested in 2013 on allegations that he slashed another man’s throat with a hatchet. Humphreys maintained that he was falsely implicated in the crime, and prosecutors later dropped the assault and attempted-murder charges against him, citing “interests of justice.”
Duluth police said they are continuing to investigate Tuesday’s incident. It is the first nonvehicular homicide in the city since the May 2015 stabbing death of Lisa Isham in Lincoln Park.
News Tribune staff writer Brady Slater contributed to this report.