Carrying a firearm for self-defense can increase your odds of surviving an encounter with a violent criminal, but a gun in the hand of a law-abiding citizen is still a tool, not a magical talisman that guarantees protection. The murder of Anna Marie Wagener in St. Paul, Minnesota is a painful reminder of that fact, just as the history of her accused killer is a reminder that the criminal justice system doesn’t always deliver justice to criminals.
Wagener, a 41-year old mother and grandmother described by family as “tough” and “no nonsense, but with a heart of gold,” was shot and killed in St. Paul back on September 3rd, but Antoine Powell wasn’t charged for the crime until this week, when the 44-year old added second degree murder to the long list of criminal charges he’s faced over the past few years.
Neither police nor prosecutors have offered a motive for the shooting. Investigators said at the time that they believed that the suspect and victim knew each other.
According to the complaint:
Police officers arrived at Arcade Street and E. Cook Avenue shortly before 3:40 a.m. and saw Wagener with gunshot wounds to her chest and leg. She died at the scene. An autopsy found that she had been shot six times.
The officers learned that missing were her cellphone and her handgun. She had recently obtained a government-issued permit to carry a firearm and the gun “because the area where she lived wasn’t safe,” the charging document read.
A resident nearby told police about seeing the gunman shoot Wagener as she moved backward from him. The shooter then grabbed something from Wagener and ran.
Surveillance video from the area showed Wagener pull out a handgun from her waistband, then walk out of view. Police squads arrived 10 minutes later.
It’s unclear whether Wagener fired any shots at her attacker before she died, but news reports don’t indicate that any shell casings from her gun were found at the scene. Instead, police spotted several casings that were tied back to a shooting in north Minneapolis a few hours before Wagener’s murder, but their biggest break came when an informant came forward with information about her killer.
According to the confidential informant, a man named Antoine or Shantoine was responsible for her death, as well as stealing her firearm after her murder. The informant also told police that the same man had been a part of the north Minneapolis shooting, and also informed officers that Wagener’s killer had been wearing an ankle monitoring device, but had since cut off the device.
DOC data provided by the ankle bracelet placed Powell at the scene of Wagener’s death and at the earlier shooting on Emerson Avenue.
Powell spoke with homicide investigators Monday from the Hennepin County jail. He was shown some of the evidence in Wagener’s death and did not respond, other than to say he needed a lawyer.
Powell was on probation at the time of the shootings in early September for a weapons offense in 2014 out of Hennepin County. Court records also show that he has three convictions in Minnesota for drugs, three for bringing drugs or alcohol into jail, and one each for assault and credit card fraud.
At some point between the shooting and Powell’s interview with police on Monday, the 44-year old convicted felon was arrested in Hennepin County and charged with another weapons-related offense dating back to 2019, which is why he was behind bars when homicide investigators paid him a visit earlier this week.
I’m very curious to know how long Powell served behind bars on the 2014 charge before he was placed on parole, as well as whether or not he committed any parole violations before allegedly murdering a 41-year old woman and stealing her handgun.
While we’re waiting for more details about Powell’s criminal history, Anna Marie Wagener’s family has set up a GoFundMe to help pay for the 41-year old’s funeral expenses. If you’re so inclined, you can donate here.