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Woman accused of trying to shoot trooper near Moorhead makes first court appearance

Domonique Clayton1 / 3
Law enforcement vehicles park and block westbound traffic along Interstate 94 just east of Moorhead as officials investigate an active scene on Monday, March 5.David Samson / Forum News Service2 / 3
Melody Gray3 / 3

MOORHEAD, Minn.—The woman accused of trying to shoot a Minnesota State Patrol trooper in the head after he stopped to help her and a companion at the scene of a crash just east of Moorhead, Minn., made her first appearance in Clay County District Court on Friday, March 9.

Melody Gray, who was wounded by a round from the trooper's weapon, appeared before Judge Peter Irvine with her right forearm heavily bandaged and supported by a black sling.

Bail for the 30-year-old Milwaukee, Wis., resident on felony charges of first-degree attempted murder, felon in possession of a firearm and possessing stolen property was formally set at $1 million cash or bond without conditions and $600,000 cash or bond with restrictions.

Gray said little during the hearing, mostly answering Irvine's questions with a simple yes or no. She also agreed during the hearing to waive her right to fight extradition to Milwaukee County, Wis., on charges of kidnapping, human trafficking and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Gray was shot in the arm by Trooper Mark Peterson during a Monday morning, March 5, incident on Interstate 94 near Moorhead. She had been hospitalized for several days at Essentia Health in Fargo for treatment. But she was listed as an inmate at the Clay County Jail on Friday morning.

The attempted murder charge comes with a maximum sentence of life in prison. Being a felon in possession of a firearm can bring a sentence as high as 15 years in prison and/or a $30,000 fine. The stolen property charge can bring a sentence of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Her next court appearance is set for March 23.

According to court documents and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension:

About 10:10 a.m. Monday, Trooper Peterson stopped to help Gray and her male passenger, Domonique Maurice Crayton, 29, also of Milwaukee, who were in a car that had slid into the I-94 median a few miles east of Moorhead.

While checking the vehicle identification number, Peterson learned the car had been reported stolen in Germantown, Wis., and he positioned his squad car to prevent the disabled car from driving away. Peterson then asked Crayton to get out of the car, the BCA said.

As Peterson tried to handcuff Crayton, Gray allegedly got out of the driver's seat and, with her right arm extended, pointed a 9mm handgun at the trooper's head and appeared to pull the trigger, court documents said.

The gun, however, did not fire. The trooper then pulled himself and Crayton away toward the back of the car and put Crayton to the ground, court documents said.

Meanwhile, Gray tried to manipulate the handgun to chamber a round and raised the gun again toward the trooper. The trooper fired his gun and hit her in the right arm, court documents said. Gray then dropped the gun, ran across I-94 and north into a field, court documents and the BCA said. Peterson recovered the gun.

Meanwhile, Gray collapsed in the field. Other officers from the State Patrol, Clay County Sheriff's Office and Fargo and Dilworth police departments arrived and took Gray into custody, the BCA said.

Crayton was in court Wednesday, March 7, on felony charges of first-degree damage to property and receiving stolen property (a motor vehicle), as well as misdemeanor counts of giving a peace officer false information and obstructing the legal process.

Crayton also is being sought by Milwaukee County authorities on a warrant for felony charges of kidnapping, human trafficking, second-degree sexual assault and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Bail tied to his Milwaukee County warrant was set at $100,000. For the Clay County charges, bail was set at $50,000 without conditions or $30,000 with conditions. He was still being held Friday at the Clay County Jail, a jail staffer confirmed.

Crayton's next court appearance is scheduled for March 16.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including K-12 education, Fargo city government, criminal justice, and military affairs. He is currently one of The Forum's business reporters.

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