A St. Paul couple are charged with attempted first-degree premeditated murder in the murder of a woman outside a supervised parenting center in Minneapolis.
The attack appears to stem from a long-running custody dispute between Nicole Lenway, 33, and Timothy Allen Amacher, 41, the father of Lenway’s son.
Lenway was about to pick up the 5-year-old from FamilyWise on University Avenue on April 20 when authorities said 24-year-old Colleen Purificacion Larson shot Lenway in the arm and neck.
Lenway suffered a gunshot wound through his arm as well as multiple internal injuries, including a punctured lung. She remains hospitalized, but is expected to survive. Lenway was unable to speak to investigators, but provided them with information in writing.
Prosecutors say Larson lives with Amacher. Both are charged with attempted first degree murder. Amacher faces an additional charge of aiding an offender.
According to criminal complaints, Lenway has full custody of their son, and a family court judge recently ordered that Amacher can only visit him in a supervised setting.
On the day of the attack, Amacher was visiting his son inside FamilyWise while Larson allegedly drove Amacher’s new Dodge Ram pickup to the facility, spotted the building, then “wearing all black, a balaclava, gloves and a medical mask” hidden behind a fence until Lenway got out of his vehicle. Prosecutors say Larson was recorded on surveillance video raising a gun at Lenway, but the shooting itself happened just outside the camera’s line of sight.
Amacher spoke with police after the shooting but before his arrest. Prosecutors say he “spent much of the interview describing how he is a victim of family court, [the Minneapolis Police Department,] and [Lenway’s] behavior.” When police asked Amacher if he knew who shot Lenway, Amacher said the attack was likely related to his work as an MPD medical examiner.
According to the criminal complaint, investigators learned that in February Amacher “offered to one of his friends to kill” Lenway in exchange for $50,000. Prosecutors say during a search of Larson and Amacher’s home, investigators found casings from a .380 handgun that matched those recovered from the scene of the shooting.
Prosecutors also said that since 2019, Amacher had made 10 reports to police that Lenway and her boyfriend abused the child, but “all reports were found to be unfounded.” During an investigation into one of these allegations, the boy told a social worker that Amacher “asked him to lie about being abused”.
Custody case documents show Amacher and Lenway met in 2012 when she was a client of his martial arts and fitness studio and began dating later that year. that year.
In a 2021 order in the child custody case, Family Court Judge Mark Ireland wrote that he was concerned about the boy’s mental health due to the ‘constant and baseless accusations of abuse’ of Amacher by Lenway, and that Amacher “conditions the child to believe that he is being hurt” by his mother and boyfriend.
Ireland also discovered that Lenway had been the victim of domestic violence, including an incident in 2015 when Amacher grabbed her by the hair as she tried to leave her home, and another in 2018 where Amacher prevented Lenway to leave his office for more than 90 minutes.
Amacher and Larson are due to make their first court appearances on Tuesday afternoon. They are being held in the Hennepin County Jail on $1 million bond each.
A GoFundMe for Lenway raised over $60,000.
You make MPR News possible. Individual donations drive the clarity of our reporters’ coverage across the state, the stories that connect us, and the conversations that provide insight. Help ensure that MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.
Donate today. A donation of $17 makes a difference.