Murder-suicide investigation continuesArea News
-- Tensia Richard was working out in Anytime Fitness when her estranged husband showed up.
By: Scott Wente - South Washington County Bulletin, Pierce County Herald
COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. - Tensia Richard was working out in Anytime Fitness when her estranged husband showed up.
She met him outside the fitness club at 7750 Harkness Ave., in the middle of the afternoon. Security cameras show the two in a brief conversation before she appears to be surprised or startled by something and then tries to run away.
With numerous witnesses in nearby stores, Chevel Richard chased Tensia around the Cottage Grove strip mall parking lot, firing rounds at her from his .45-caliber high point handgun as she frantically tried to get away.
Tensia ran into the nearby Jimmy John’s restaurant, followed by Chevel. He shot her again in the lobby area of the sandwich shop, killing the 22-year-old mother of two, before shooting himself in the head, ending the brief but shocking ordeal.
That is the description Cottage Grove police had put together as they investigated in the hours and days after the Thursday, Oct. 25, murder-suicide at a Gateway North commercial complex near 80th Street and Highway 61.
The case was still being investigated this week by Cottage Grove police and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. A number of witnesses to the shooting were interviewed on scene and later. Police also were encouraging anybody with information to contact them at 651-458-2850.
“This is a sad loss,” Cottage Grove Police Chief Craig Woolery said, who also called the shooting “a very frightening day for people who saw what happened.”
Cottage Grove detective Sgt. Randy McAlister said Tensia was on her cellphone inside the gym before she went outside, but it was not immediately clear whether she was lured outside by Chevel or the nature of the conversation.
Their brief conversation ended as Tensia tried to flee, winding through the parking lot as Chevel shot at her as many as 12 to 15 times, police speculated based on spent and live shell casings found at the scene.
“She ran all over” trying to escape Chevel, McAlister said.
Police Capt. Pete Koerner said Chevel never was in Anytime Fitness, but it appeared at least one bullet struck and shattered a glass entrance door to the club.
The shooting shook up people who were within sight and sound of the attack.
Andrew Turner, a 23-year-old Cottage Grove man, was working out at Anytime Fitness when he said he heard gunshots.
“I was running on the machine and heard a ‘pop’ and a door break,” Turner said as he stood behind police tape and watched authorities investigate the scene. Turner said he quickly moved to rear of the gym during the shooting because “I didn’t want to get shot.”
Cottage Grove resident Steve Mack said he was changing his clothes in a bathroom at Anytime Fitness when he heard commotion outside. He thought someone had dropped weights, but the sounds were gunshots.
“I heard a pop and I heard screaming,” he said. The screaming kept getting louder.
Law enforcement vehicles from the Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park and Woodbury police departments and Washington County Sheriff’s Office flooded the scene immediately after the 3:35 p.m. shooting. The investigation at the scene lasted into the night.
An Anytime Fitness spokesman said there were closed-circuit cameras outside the front of the club. Police also planned to review footage captured on cameras at Jimmy John’s.
Investigators searched Chevel Richard’s Eagan apartment after the shooting. They found a multi-page, handwritten suicide note.
“It’s a long, rambling note about his difficulties with life,” McAlister said.
Woolery tried to calm concerned residents after the shooting, assuring them it was not random and that the public was safe.
“There is no threat to the community,” he said. “This event is over and it was over very quickly.”
Two fatal police-involved shootings in 2010 were the last shootings in Cottage Grove before last week. In two separate incidents on Hadley Avenue, suspects were fatally shot by law enforcement after confrontations with police.