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Man sentenced to three years for Montevideo burglary, assault

Eric Tyrone Cornelius Jr.

MONTEVIDEO — A Fridley man was sentenced to three years in a burglary and assault that brought out SWAT team members last summer in Montevideo.

Eric Tyrone Cornelius Jr., 21, pleaded guilty in Chippewa County District Court to one felony count of first-degree burglary and one felony count of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon for entering a residence in Montevideo, brandishing a handgun and demanding money on July 18, 2016.

The West Central SWAT team responded due to the violence of the crime and the weapon involved, according to court documents.

Cornelius was sentenced Wednesday to 36 months in prison.

According to the criminal complaint, Cornelius entered a home on Sixth Street in Montevideo and made a grab for a woman's purse, while she was still holding it. When he could not get the purse away, he put a gun to a male individual's face, demanding money. The male said he refused and was hit in the face with the gun, along with being punched multiple times in the face, the complaint states. Law enforcement reported the man had a cut above his eye and swelling on his face.

The two said they recognized the voice of the assailant, even though he was wearing black clothes, a camo face mask, a black bandana and blue latex gloves.

After he was unable to get any money, Cornelius fled. The occupants locked the doors and called 911. According to the complaint, the two told law enforcement they heard Cornelius try to get back in.

After they searched their home, they reported several items had been stolen, including a Playstation 4, several video games and a camera.

They gave law enforcement a known address of Cornelius and officers went to the residence, which had at least two apartments.

While briefing the SWAT team on the situation, a deputy said two individuals left Cornelius' building, one matching the description given by the victims of the burglary and assault. Cornelius and the other individual were taken into custody, though the second person was later released without charges.

A search was executed for two apartments in the building where Cornelius lived. Black jeans, a black pullover sweatshirt, a BB gun pistol, a glass marijuana pipe and two video games were removed from the apartments. While searching the grounds around the residence, law enforcement uncovered the items reported stolen from the victims' home, the complaint states.

Law enforcement also found a Ruger P89 handgun and multiple rounds, along with the camo face mask and blue latex gloves. In addition, a Armalite M15A4 rifle, several magazines and a significant number of rounds were found. Court documents say it was later determined the rifle has been stolen from a residence in Eagan around September 2015.

As part of Cornelius' plea deal, two additional felony first-degree burglary charges were dismissed and also one felony count of first-degree aggravated robbery, one count of felony theft and one count of receiving stolen property, a felony. Two petty misdemeanors also were dismissed: one count of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count of possession of a small amount of marijuana.

Cornelius received credit for 121 days served and will serve the remainder of his sentence at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud. He also must pay $650 in fees.

A restitution hearing is scheduled for Nov. 1 at 1 p.m.