ANDOVER, Minn. – Authorities are now investigating the hit-and-run death of a 17-year-old in Andover as a homicide.
Tristan Robinson of Nowthen was fatally struck by a car on the evening of Nov. 10. On Sunday, Nov. 12, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office said their investigation has shown that the driver intentionally struck Robinson. They are now classifying the case as second-degree murder.
According to the sheriff’s office, three people conspired to rob Robinson at the location, on 141st Lane NW, and in the process, ran over and killed him with a vehicle.
“The hopeful gain from that robbery would have been a small amount of marijuana,” said Cdr. Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office. “Allegedly what happened is the three suspects conspired to steal this marijuana from Mr. Robinson. They met up with him using a social media app called Snapchat.”
On Sunday morning, authorities said a juvenile male from St. Francis was in custody. They were seeking two other suspects, and Sunday evening, they said one of those suspects had been arrested — a 17-year-old male.
According to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, 19-year-old Loren James Gafner is still at large
Gafner is believed to have been driving the vehicle. He was last known to live in St. Francis.
The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office released his photo to the public.
Gafner is described as 5 feet, 11 inches tall, 160 pounds.
The suspect vehicle is a 2005 gray Mercury Montego with front-end damage and the Minnesota license plates 450 NMR.
“There’s no words to describe the tragedy that we see here today,” Sommer said.
Robinson was a student at Andover High School. Kari Lund, Robinson’s aunt, said her nephew was an aspiring rapper who planned on pursuing his dreams in California. “He really loved his baby sister, Lilly, and he was a mama’s boy,” Lund said in a text message.
His aunt said Robinson’s nickname was “Bubba” and he loved hanging out with friends riding four-wheelers, fishing, skateboarding and fashion.
Authorities say there is concern that Gafner has access to a handgun. Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office at 763-427-1212.