A Minneapolis police crime scene investigator who survived an ambush shooting outside a child care center testified Monday that he remembers falling to the ground and a masked shooter standing over him before firing a second round at point-blank range.
Critically injured Nicole Laneway clutched her neck to stop the bleeding from the bullet wound and tried to get inside the facility to get help, but she was unable to enter.
“Later I learned they were on lockdown,” she said. “I tried to call 911 and they didn’t understand what I was trying to say.”
The bullet that hit her vocal cords is still lodged between her ribs. She loves to sing but doesn’t know if she will be able to again due to damage from the shoot.
“At this point, I’m lucky to be alive and happy to be able to speak,” she said.
A Laneway witness was hospitalized seven months after the shooting at her ex-boyfriend’s attempted-murder trial in Hennepin County District Court, accused of plotting the attack to gain full custody of their 6-year-old son. For days. Unable to speak with police investigators and lawyers, she communicated on paper.
Despite the harrowing details of the shooting, much of Laneway’s testimony detailed a four-year child custody battle with Timothy Amacher, a taekwondo master in St. Paul. An accomplice after the fact in Laneway’s shooting.
Amacher’s ex-girlfriend, Colleen Purification Larson, 25, said Amacher, 41, pressured him to carry out the shooting in the parking lot of FamilyWise, a supervised visitation and exchange center in Minneapolis. Larson is charged with attempted first-degree murder; Her trial will be held separately in January.
Lenway, 33, said she didn’t know who fired the shots, but she knew it was a woman. She later found out that the shooter was Larson, who had babysat her son and lived with him before she started dating Amacher. Lenway said he was concerned about their age difference.
Jurors learned on the first day of testimony last week that Amacher met Larson while he was a teenager taking classes with her. Laneway and Amature first met at his martial arts studio before they started dating and moved in together in 2013.
Lenway moved out of Amature’s home in 2015 before she found out she was pregnant. Their son was born in 2016 and they tried co-parenting.
Laneway testified that she married Minneapolis Police Officer Donovan Ford on Oct. 28. When she began dating Ford in 2017, her ex-boyfriend began filing false child abuse reports against the couple, prosecutors say.
In an effort to stave off the charges, Ford left the Minneapolis Police Department and moved to Colorado for more than a year to work with another force. Laneway testified that the allegations persisted even at Ford out of state.
Amature reported domestic violence in a case that went to trial in Ramsey County in November 2020. Lenway said Larson testified in support of Amature, who falsely claimed that Lenway and Ford abused her son.
Lenway said he was exonerated and hired an attorney to expunge his record.
A judge remanded Laneway in custody. Amature was allowed to supervise once a week at FamilyWise.
During the child custody battle, Lenway said the Larsons often took their son because of orders of protection against Amacher.
Amacher first reported the abuse and filed for custody in 2018; Several reports followed. Laneway was contacted by social workers and children’s services came to her home.
Amacher’s attorney, Larry Reed, said Amacher was not involved in the shooting. He said his client was falsely accused in a conspiracy by Minneapolis police to file a complaint that Laneway tampered with evidence in the 2015 death of Jamar Clark, who was shot during a standoff with city officers.
Lenway has denied fabricating evidence, and prosecutors say Amature is the one accusing Lenway of doing so. Reid said Amacher was just a concerned father looking out for the safety and well-being of his young son.
“Wouldn’t that be fair in your mind, given that Mr. Amature expressed concern and made reports?” Reid asked Laneway during cross-examination, and she agreed.
Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Patrick Lofton said the charges amount to harassment.
Lenway testified that she remained in the hospital after the shooting and had concerns about her son’s custody.
She handed over temporary custody of her son to her parents while doctors discussed the life-threatening risks of the surgery. She said that if she didn’t survive, he shouldn’t go with Amacher.
“I remember my mother telling me [him] “He’s fine,” Lenway said.
Testimony again on Tuesday.