Alex Greig, Daily Mail (London), February 1, 2014
A 69-year-old Minnesota man has been shot dead after opening his door to a man who claimed he was being chased.
Thomas Sonnenberg called 911 at 11:46am Friday for 20-year-old Devon Derrick Parker who police say told him he was being pursued by assailants with baseball bats.
When police arrived at the home on the 3700 block of North Aldrich Avenue in north Minneapolis, they found Sonnenberg dead.
Parker was apprehended inside the house.
Police spokesperson John Elder earlier indicated that Parker and Sonnenberg were acquaintances, but Sonnenberg’s daughter Raina Baldwin says that was not the case.
‘No. Absolutely not,’ she told the Mail Online through tears.
‘He thought he was helping someone in need, that’s why he let him into the house,’ she said.
Baldwin said she believes Parker was attempting to rob the house but did not realize that her mother was also in the home.
Sonnenberg answered the door to Parker begging to come in because he was in danger. He let the young man inside and closed the door before calling 911.
It was then that Parker shot him in the head.
Thomas Sonnenberg’s wife Elaine Sonnenberg, 68, was in the kitchen at the time of the shooting.
‘When the murderer found out she was here, he threw her around and choked her, and he was going to rape her,’ Baldwin told Mail Online.
The front door locked behind Parker when he entered the house. When Parker realized, he threatened Elaine Sonnenberg to force her to give him the keys, says Baldwin.
Police, who Thomas Sonnenberg had called on Parker’s behalf, arrived before he could escape.
Sonnenberg ‘seems like an innocent victim. From all indications, this is not a bad guy, a drug deal gone wrong, or anything like that,’ Elder told the Star Tribune.
Police recovered a handgun in the house which is believed to be the murder weapon, Elder said.
Court records show that Parker was on probation for a felony assault in 2011. Records show he has been booked on numerous felony charges, including shooting at a public vehicle or facility and throwing bodily fluids or feces and has drug and trespassing convictions.
Sonnenberg has no police record.
Baldwin says it was not the first time her father had opened his home to someone in need.
‘He had a big heart,’ she said. ‘He had helped people before who had come to his door. He was not stupid, he thought he was helping this person.’
Elder says there is no indication that Parker was being followed or threatened, and he did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Thomas Sonnenberg and his wife have three grown-up daughters and several grandchildren.
He was the second youngest of 10 kids who grew up on a vegetable farm in Brooklyn Center, Darrell Sonnenberg told the Star Tribune.
‘He was a pretty good guy, pretty friendly, pretty nice,’ Darrell Sonnenberg said. ‘Not a tough guy. He took good care of his kids.’
Another of Thomas Sonnenberg’s daughters, Rachel Sonnenberg Baufield, posted about her father’s tragic death yesterday.
‘My DAD was cruelly taken from me and my family today. Please pray for justice for him and wish him to be at peace! I loved him very much! The world will be a much sadder place without him in it.’