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Suspect in Minneapolis school bus shooting also killed teen robber in 2015

Kenneth Walter Lilly

ST. PAUL — A St. Paul man charged with shooting a Minneapolis school bus driver is the same person who fatally shot a 16-year-old trying to rob him nearly four years ago, a Ramsey County official said Friday.

In 2015, the Ramsey County attorney’s office did not bring criminal charges against Kenneth Walter Lilly — who had a permit to carry the handgun. They found his use of deadly force against Lavauntai Broadbent in St. Paul was legally justified.

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, 31-year-old Lilly shot and wounded a school bus driver after a minor accident on Interstate 35W in Minneapolis, according to an attempted murder charge filed by the Hennepin County attorney’s office.

Lilly’s attorneys, Tom Plunkett and Charles Clippert, said in a Friday statement that in 2015 Lilly “was the victim of a horrible, violent crime where he had to act to save his life and the life of a young lady. Members of the ‘Shoota Boy Gang’ (SBD), on a multi-day crime spree, robbed him and a woman at gunpoint.

“He takes no joy in those events, and has struggled with the inevitable emotional turmoil that follows being forced to act in such a way,” the statement continued. “The matter was investigated, reviewed and Mr. Lilly was cleared. “

The previous case

The name of Broadbent’s shooter was not previously released.

The Ramsey County attorney’s office responded to a St. Paul Pioneer Press inquiry on Friday and confirmed that prosecutors reviewed a case in 2015 regarding Lilly’s involvement in Broadbent’s shooting.

After the shooting on a Mississippi River bluff, police noted that Lilly was “visibly upset and shaking,” according to juvenile petitions filed in 2015 charging Broadbent’s friends.

Lilly reported a masked male approached and, from three feet away, pointed a handgun at him. The gunman told Lilly, “Empty your pockets, (racial epithet),” according to Lilly.

“(Lilly) stated he thought he or the woman (he was with) were going to be killed so he grabbed his holstered gun and fired several shots at the suspect with the gun,” according to the petitions.

After Tuesday’s shooting, Lilly told officers he fired at the bus driver because he feared for his safety. But the criminal complaint says video footage shows he had retreated to a safe spot before walking back in front of the bus to start shooting.

“This is a complicated case,” Plunkett said after Lilly made his first court appearance Friday. “More information will be coming out about the case. We appreciate that you give us and Mr. Lilly the opportunity to complete our investigation, so that we can do a fair job for everyone.”

No plans to review 2015 case

Hennepin County prosecutors are aware of the 2015 fatal shooting and “we will give it due consideration as we move forward,” said Chuck Laszewski, Hennepin County attorney’s office spokesman.

Asked whether the Hennepin County charges would prompt any additional review of the Broadbent shooting, Ramsey County attorney’s spokesman Dennis Gerhardstein said he did not anticipate it, unless there was new information.

St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linders said Friday that police do not plan to review the Broadbent case.

Lilly ‘concerned’ about bus driver

On Friday, Plunkett said Lilly is “very concerned” about the well-being of the driver and an 8-year-old student who was on the bus and “extends his well wishes to them.” The child was not injured.

Lilly, a security guard, was in his uniform at the time of this week’s shooting. He had a permit to carry a gun, which the Ramsey County sheriff’s office is voiding, a prosecutor said in court Friday.

On Tuesday afternoon, Lilly walked in front of a school bus that had scraped his car on I-35W during a snowstorm and repeatedly shot through the windshield at the driver inside, according to the criminal complaint.

His gunfire grazed the bus driver’s head and struck his left arm. The driver’s wounds were not life-threatening.

The 78-year-old bus driver said in a Friday statement to KSTP-TV: “The safety of the kids on my bus are my first priority and I care for them as if they were my own grandkids. I’m so thankful no one else was hurt.”

Lilly didn’t address the media after his court appearance Friday. In the courtroom, he was only asked to state his name, date of birth and address. Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill asked Lilly if he had any questions and he responded, “No, sir.”

He was released from custody Thursday on $500,000 bond with conditions, including that he not contact the bus driver or possess firearms. His next court appearance is in March.