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Text message tricks man into confrontation

A man got a text message from a woman asking for drinks and sex. The meet-up location was in Woodbury.

At about midnight June 17, he showed up at a home in the 2200 block of Vining Drive, text messaged the female that he had arrived, and rang the doorbell. 

Then, he was confronted by four other men: Kyle Edward Nelson, 20, of Woodbury; Gabriel Evan-Thorne Evaska, 18, of Rosemount; Connor Harrison Hartlich-Mares, 21, of Inver Grove Heights; and Carlos Irene Vasquez, 18, of St. Paul. 

Evaska and Vasquez were armed, according to the complaint. 

Each of the four alleged assailants faces a felony count of aiding and abetting terroristic threats with reckless disregard of the risk of causing terror or inconvenience. 

Three defendants appeared in court June 19, all of them posted bonds to cover bail, and one of them has a warrant out for his arrest.

Hartlich-Mares made his first appearance in Washington County District Aug. 5. 

Nelson also appeared July 23, and is due back for a September omnibus hearing and a November jury trial. 

Vasquez appeared again July 16 and is scheduled for an October omnibus hearing and a December jury trial.

Evaska failed to appear at a July 22 hearing, so a warrant was issued for his arrest.

According to the complaint:

The confrontation occurred at about midnight on June 17.

When the co-defendants came from around the side of the building, Evaska brandished a box cutter and Vasquez carried a bat or golf club, “some sort of improvised weapon.” Despite the victim saying he had the money owed, Evaska and Vasquez swung their weapons at the man, for whom Nelson had secretly faked the text message. They admitted to trying to lure the man into a place where he could be confronted.

Evaska claimed he tried to intervene and was stabbed in the upper right arm.

The victim said he moved back, ducked and avoided the swings, then pulled a folding knife and swung it, to create distance between the attackers and himself. 

Then the victim ran away. The defendants gave chase, the last one — Vasquez — giving up when the victim called 911. 

All of the windows of the victim’s car were smashed out when he returned. Vasquez blamed Evaska for the damage.

Suspects told police that the victim owed Nelson money from a two-year-old drug deal, and that he had taken $157 from Hartlich-Mares more than six months ago.

On the night of the confrontation, Evaska, Nelson and Vasquez were arrested at Nelson’s home in Woodbury and positively identified by the victim at the Woodbury Public Safety building. Hartlich-Mares had gone a separate way that night.