Cass Lake man charged with 2nd-degree murder in July 2021 drive-by shooting
A 46-year-old Cass Lake man has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the July 2021 shooting death of Diego Gasca.
CASS LAKE — A Cass Lake man has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the July 2021 shooting death of Diego Gasca.
According to a release from Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch, authorities from the sheriff’s office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension arrested William Headbird, 46, of Cass Lake, on Friday, July 1, in Cass Lake.
"The arrest resulted from cooperative efforts between law enforcement and the Cass County Attorney’s Office, which filed charges on June 30," the release said.
According to the criminal complaint, at 2:45 a.m. on July 5, 2021, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a man being shot near Basswood Avenue and Fourth Street NW in the city of Cass Lake.
When deputies arrived on the scene, they found a male victim, who was later identified as 34-year-old Diego Gasca of Cass Lake, lying in the street with what appeared to be several gunshot wounds to the chest. Gasca was transported to the Cass Lake Hospital where he was pronounced dead, the documents said.
Through its investigation, the Cass County Sheriff's Office learned that a large gathering had taken place at 323 and 412 Fourth St. NW in Cass Lake, which had begun in the afternoon of July 4, 2021, and lasted into the early morning hours up to the shooting incident.
Just prior to the shooting incident, witnesses reported a group of individuals walking through the party scene, which took place in the yards of the above-listed addresses and Basswood Avenue NW, the complaint said.
Witnesses observed a verbal altercation between some men and several of the guests in attendance, including Gasca. Witnesses at the scene identified one of the males as William Headbird, the complaint continued.
“Shortly after the altercation, witnesses observed a car pull up at the intersection of Basswood Avenue and Fourth Street NW, and several shots were fired from the vehicle,” the complaint said. “The vehicle then sped off to the east on Fourth Street NW. Witnesses report the victim stumbled and fell shortly after the gunshots, and they realized he had been struck by gunfire.”
Witnesses at the scene described the vehicle as a four-door sedan, either tan, white or silver in color and with a loud exhaust. Investigators later learned that Headbird owned a 2000 tan Pontiac Grand Prix GT with a loud exhaust.
Investigators located surveillance video of a person walking up to the apartment complex where Headbird lives. Audio from the video indicates a vehicle starting, and loud exhaust is heard while taillights are observed leaving the parking area and heading northbound on State Highway 371 into Cass Lake.
“A vehicle matching the earlier description is then observed on surveillance video at the Cass Lake Mini Mart heading north,” the complaint said. “Additional video from a private residence to the west of the scene shows a vehicle with a loud exhaust heading east -- toward the scene. Shortly after, multiple gunshots are heard on the video, along with people screaming.
“After the shooting, the video from the apartment next to Headbird's shows a vehicle crossing State Highway 371 and heading west along the railroad tracks.”
According to the complaint, Headbird was located and questioned by law enforcement and indicated he was intoxicated the night of July 4, 2021, and did not know where his car was.
In August 2021, Headbird's vehicle was located, partially dismantled and covered with debris in an attempt to camouflage the vehicle. The car was towed to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension laboratory where it was processed for forensic evidence pursuant to a search warrant, the complaint said.
“The BCA lab reported locating several fingerprints on the car parts removed from Headbird's vehicle to match known fingerprints of William Headbird,” the complaint said. “A DNA profile was located on the interior driver's door handle, which was consistent with the known offender sample of William Headbird.”
In April, a witness referred to in the complaint as “Witness 1” met with law enforcement, who indicated they were present at the party the night the victim was shot. The witness identified the vehicle as Headbird's car and stated Headbird was driving. They also indicated they witnessed a rifle barrel sticking out from the driver's window when the car pulled up to the scene. The witness identified Headbird as the shooter and stated the car sped away to the east after the gunshots were fired.
In June, a search warrant was obtained requesting a known DNA sample from Headbird, the complaint said.
“Upon collecting the DNA, Headbird continued to deny involvement in the shooting death of Gasca,” the complaint said. “During interviews with Headbird, he told investigators he knows it does not look good for him, he offered that he would take responsibility though he believes he did not commit this crime, and he asked investigators to contact him so that he may turn himself in if a warrant is issued.”
Headbird was arraigned on charges of second-degree murder on Tuesday, July 5, in Cass County.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Leech Lake Tribal Police, Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force, Itasca County Sheriff’s Office, Grand Rapids Police Department and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources all assisted in the ongoing investigation.