Charges filed in fatal shooting of off-duty Minn. firefighter-paramedic

Thomas R. Harrigan was found at his home with a gunshot wound to the chest and later died at the hospital

By Sarah Horner
Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Two brothers have been charged in the fatal shooting of a St. Paul firefighter earlier this month.

Dontay Lee Caraway, 39, showed up at Thomas Harrigan’s house around 8:30 p.m. Sept. 2 with his brother, Blake Deshaun Caraway, 36, according to criminal complaints filed against the two in Ramsey County District Court.

Harrigan was on a leave of absence from the fire department when he died. (Photo/Saint Paul Firefighters Local 21)
Harrigan was on a leave of absence from the fire department when he died. (Photo/Saint Paul Firefighters Local 21)

Armed with a gun, Blake Caraway was there to help Dontay Caraway retrieve a cell phone after Harrigan kicked him out of his house for stealing, according to the charges.

The Caraway brothers encountered a woman staying at the house and demanded she turn over the phone, but she refused because Dontay Caraway had stolen some of her boyfriend’s belongings while he lived there, according to the complaint.

She told the men to get out, and then Harrigan — who was also home at the time — got involved, the woman told police. An argument ensued and Harrigan, who was holding a stick, almost struck Blake Caraway with it.

That’s when Blake Caraway shot Caraway once in the chest, and ran out of the house with his brother, according to the complaint.

Paramedics from Harrigan’s own fire department rendered aid when they responded. The house is located on Ivy Avenue in the Prosperity Heights area of the East Side. Harrigan died at Regions Hospital 30 minutes later.

It was a tragic ending for Harrigan. The veteran had been trying to address substance abuse issues developed after years of struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder related to his time serving in the National Guard and army in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to his family.

Harrigan earned awards for combat service overseas, and was respected for the compassion he treated people with as a St. Paul firefighter, his father, John Harrigan wrote in a Facebook post after his death.

Harrigan was on a leave of absence from the fire department when he died. The leave started on July 29.

It was around then that Harrigan “voluntarily entered a VA treatment and rehabilitation program in St. Cloud,” John Harrigan wrote. However, he was expelled a week later for confrontations with a fellow patient.

Following his death, investigators interviewed some of his roommates at the house.

They told police that Harrigan often brought different people in to stay at his residence, eventually kicking them out for one problem or another before letting others take their place, according to the complaint.

The occupants racked up their share of problems with law enforcement. Police were called to the house 20 times this year, nine times in August.

One of the calls was related to the drug-overdose of a 19-year-old man, who received Narcan. Another time four people were picked up on warrants for suspicion of possession of methamphetamine. Harrigan was not among those arrested.

Another man interviewed following the shooting told police he looked after Harrigan’s home while he had been in treatment, and that Harrigan had problems with people who stayed at the home stealing from him.

Another roommate told investigators that Harrigan and the man got into a physical altercation with Dontay Caraway days prior to the shooting after Dontay Caraway was caught stealing, the complaint said.

They kicked him out without letting him gather his belongings, the complaint said.

Both Blake and Dontay Caraway were arrested out of state Friday and are being held in connection with Harrigan’s homicide, according to St. Paul police.

Blake Caraway was arrested in Florida and Dontay Caraway in Oklahoma.

Neither men could be reached for comment.


©2019 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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