Rush City brothers’ threats racially motivated, authorities say

By Derrick Knutson—

Two Rush City brothers are facing prison time and fines after allegedly threatening to kill an African American man.

Tommy Lee Fleming, 21, and James Eric Fleming Jr., 23, are both charged in Chisago County District Court with one count of aiding and abetting terroristic threats in relation to an incident that occurred June 3 at a Rush City apartment complex on South Fairfield Avenue.

The felony charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

According to a criminal complaint from the Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to the complex at 12:38 a.m. after receiving a call from the man who was reportedly threatened by the brothers.

Upon arrival, deputies spoke to the man.

He stated he was bringing his laundry from his car to his apartment when the brothers confronted him.

He told deputies they yelled numerous racial slurs at him and flexed their muscles at him, insinuating they wanted to fight.

He went on to say James Fleming said to his brother, “Lets kill that (racial slur).”

James Fleming then reportedly told his brother to go inside their apartment and retrieve a .38 caliber gun to kill the man with.

Deputies then spoke to the man’s girlfriend, who said she was inside while the Flemings were verbally threatening her boyfriend.

She told deputies one of the brothers told her if she called police, he would “go psycho” on her.

The Flemings were arrested at their residence shortly after police finished talking to the man and his girlfriend.

During questioning, the brothers told deputies the man had threatened them with an axe earlier.

When asked if they had called police about the alleged incident, they said they had not.

After the arrests, deputies conducted a follow-up interview with a neighbor at the apartment complex who had heard the exchange between the Flemings and the man.

She said she heard most of the confrontation while listening from her window, and stated the Fleming brothers were the aggressors.

She recalled hearing one of the brothers mention a .38 caliber gun.

She also noted the only item in the African American man’s hands during the incident was a cigarette.

Past criminal histories

Chisago County Attorney Janet Reiter said the Fleming brothers, although young, already have respective wrap sheets.

In 2009, Tommy Lee Fleming pleaded guilty to fifth-degree assault in Chisago County District Court and he also pleaded guilty to the same charge for a different incident last year.

He also has underage consumption, property damage and misdemeanor traffic-related violations on his record.

James Fleming pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge in 2009 and he pleaded guilty to theft of services in 2010.

In addition to those more-serious crimes, he also has traffic and trespassing violations on his record.

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