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Teen pleads not guilty to shooting man outside Willmar house party in June

A teenager from St. Cloud faces felony charges of attempted second-degree murder and assault causing great bodily harm for shooting a man outside a southwest Willmar home last summer. He pleaded not guilty in court Thursday.

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Jeremiah Adam Torke

WILLMAR — A St. Cloud teen who allegedly shot a man outside a house party in Willmar last year pleaded not guilty Thursday morning in Kandiyohi County District Court.

Jeremiah Adam Torke has been accused of shooting a man in the chest outside a home in southwest Willmar.

Torke is being prosecuted as an adult. He is currently 17 and will turn 18 in April. He was released from custody in early December after posting $100,000 bail.

Torke’s next scheduled court date is a pretrial hearing Aug. 20. A jury trial is scheduled from Aug. 27 through Sept. 3.

Torke is charged with second-degree murder for attempting to cause the man’s death with intent, but not premeditated, along with first-degree assault causing great bodily harm and second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. He was also charged with threats of violence for threatening to kill police officers.

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All the charges are felonies.

Court records indicate that Willmar Ambulance personnel and Willmar Police Department officers were called to a report of a shooting victim lying on the ground. The man was found shot in the chest, but he was awake and talking.

The shooting occurred at about 3 a.m. June 30.

According to court records, the bullet damaged the man’s liver and gallbladder. His gallbladder was removed in surgery but the bullet could not be removed without causing additional damage.

While in the hospital, the man told officers he did not know why he had been shot.

Witnesses at the shooting scene told police Torke had been fighting with people at the party and had been told to leave. The shooting victim was allegedly trying to keep calm and stop Torke from fighting with others when he was shot, according to court records.

About an hour after the shooting, a woman reported that Torke’s girlfriend was hysterical, saying he was at her house and had been involved in a shooting.

When officers found Torke at the house, they found a handgun in the pocket of his shorts, according to the criminal complaint.

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The criminal complaint describes his ride to Prairie Lakes Youth Programs detention center. During the drive, Torke allegedly swore at officers and made threats that he would “take care of them” when he got out.

Torke allegedly said he would have Latin Kings gang members attack officers at their homes and described an area where three law enforcement officers live.

According to court records, Torke later told Prairie Lakes personnel the gun belonged to his cousin, and he had borrowed it for protection. He said he fired after he thought shots had been fired at him.

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTS
In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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