Shoot-out near Upsala results in second-degree attempted murder charges for Melrose man

Some conflict in shooter’s, victim’s accounts

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

Gerardo Botello-Garcia
Gerardo Botello-Garcia

A Melrose man was charged Wednesday, with second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault, for shooting a Sauk Centre man in Upsala.

At nearly 3 a.m., Dec. 15,  a resident in Elmdale Township in Morrison County, called the Morrison County Sheriff’s Department, reporting a man had pounded on their patio door saying he had been shot.

Officers found 27-year-old Samuel Adam Mark Bennett of Sauk Centre, lying on the resident’s patio with obvious gunshot wounds. He had been shot in the shoulder and abdomen area.

Bennett said he had allegedly been shot by a Hispanic male, later identified as 27-year-old Gerardo Botello-Garcia, of Melrose.

Bennett said the shooting occurred at an intersection near the residence.

The criminal complaint said Bennett told officers he  had returned fire during the incident and told officers where he threw his weapon.

A Taurus 9 mm pistol and a .22-caliber long-rifle magazine were found about 30 yards away, where Bennett told officers he had thrown his weapon.

Botello-Garcia was found hiding at a residence in Melrose and taken to the Morrison County Jail.

In Botello-Garcia’s account, he allegedly told officers Bennett had asked him for a ride to the Upsala area and at some point, the vehicle became stuck in the snow. Botello-Garcia told officers Bennett had been driving while trying to get the vehicle out.

Botello-Garcia said he told Bennett to get into the passenger seat and as he started to get into the driver’s seat, he noticed Bennett had a gun. Botello-Garcia said Bennett pointed the gun at him through the open door. He said he put the car in reverse and hit Bennett with the door knocking him to the ground.

Bennett approached again, Botello-Garcia said, and pointed the gun at him, so Botello-Garcia started shooting at Bennett through the open passenger door. He allegedly told officers he wasn’t sure whether he had hit Bennett, but drove away while Bennett continued shooting. Botello-Garcia abandoned the car, threw the gun away because he said he was scared,  and found a ride to Melrose.

Bennett, who had been airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital, allegedly told officers Tuesday, that he had known Botello-Garcia for about two months. He said during that time, he had purchased methamphetamine from Botello-Garcia. Bennett said Botello-Garcia had allegedly asked him to go with him to Upsala to look at a trailer.

Bennett’s account of the incident indicated the two had been stuck in the snow, but were able to free the vehicle he had been driving. He said Botello-Garcia asked him to stop, while he left to make a phone call and asked Bennett to get into the passenger seat.

Once in the passenger seat, Bennett said Botello-Garcia allegedly pointed a gun at his head and told him to get out and as he did so, Botello-Garcia shot him.

Bennett told officers as he moved toward the back of the vehicle, Botello-Garcia learned out and fired more rounds at him. He said the gun Botello-Garcia used was a 380 that belonged to Bennett’s friend, and that he believed Botello-Garcia had stolen it out of his truck earlier in the day.

Bennett said he used his 9mm handgun to shoot at the window of the vehicle as Botello-Garcia drove away.

Bennett allegedly said he had armed himself prior to the meeting, because Botello-Garcia had been acting “weird.”

Bennett allegedly said he had not been hit by the door of the vehicle and that he had fired shots into the air and screamed in an attempt to attract help, before walking toward the residence.

Botello-Garcia’s first court appearance was Wednesday. He remains in custody at the Morrison County Jail.

The maximum sentence for attempted murder in the second-degree is 40 years imprisonment and the maximum for first-degree assault is 20 years in prison and/or a $30,000 fine.