Teen pleads guilty to charges related to Inver Grove Heights party bus killing

A second teenage boy has pleaded guilty to charges related to the March shooting death of a 19-year-old man outside an Inver Grove Heights movie theater that happened as people fought after departing a party bus.

A 16-year-old boy pleaded guilty May 15 to one count of first-degree riot in connection to the shooting that killed Billy Ray Robles, of St. Paul, in the early morning hours of March 24. Authorities did not release his name.

The boy was sentenced to five years in prison and the teen will be placed under extended juvenile court jurisdiction until he turns 21.

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said in a press release investigators said the teen possessed and fired a gun during the March incident but didn’t fire the fatal shots that killed Robles. 

Another 16-year-old boy was shot in the ankle during the fight. On May 1 he pleaded guilty to similar charges and was sentenced to four years in prison. The investigation showed this teen possessed a gun during the fracas but didn’t fire it.

Around 1:30 a.m. on March 24, according to court documents, Inver Grove Heights police were dispatched to the parking lot of the AMC Theatre in the 5500 block of Bishop Avenue on a report of a fight and shots fired. 

Upon arrival, officers located a man, later identified as Robles, who had been shot twice. He was transported to Regions Hospital where he was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound to his chest.

The investigation determined a large number of people spent the night on a party bus that had departed earlier from the same parking lot. Some of the individuals were members of what were described as “east side” and “west side” groups. The groups argued throughout the night while on the bus. 

When the bus returned to the theater parking lot, the groups exited, and according to court documents witnesses said the west site group started chasing the other group. One witness said two members of the east side group fired guns in the direction of the west side group — this witness was the teen who was shot in the ankle and pleaded guilty May 1.

He left the scene prior to police arriving, but police stopped the vehicle he was riding in on Highway 52 near Butler Avenue. He was transported to Regions Hospital for treatment before being released and later charged.

Another witness said himself, Robles and a couple of other young people chased members of the east side group through the parking lot. As they were chasing the group, one of the members started shooting towards them. 

A 17-year-old boy has been charged with attempted murder, second-degree assault and first-degree riot, all of which are felony charges. His case is still pending in Dakota County Juvenile Court, and prosecutors filed a motion for him to be tried as an adult.

Taishawn Taquan Smith, 18 of Crystal, has also been charged with second-degree riot, and his case is pending as well.

No one has been charged directly for Robles’s death.


— Hannah Burlingame

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