Home Top Stories The attempted murder of Nicki Lenway: A look at the evidence

The attempted murder of Nicki Lenway: A look at the evidence

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The attempted murder of Nicki Lenway: A look at the evidence

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A crime scene investigator survives after being gunned down in broad daylight. The harrowing scene is captured on surveillance video. Who pulled the trigger? See how investigators followed a digital evidence trail to solve the case.

The shooting

lenway-beforeshooting.jpg
A surveillance image shows Nicky Lenway walking towards the FamilyWise parenting center. Behind her is a person dressed in black, who would shoot her two times.

Hennepin County District Court


On April 20, 2022, Nicole “Nicki” Lenway was shot twice in the arm and neck and left for dead in the parking lot of FamilyWise, a parenting center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Lenway had been on her way to pick up her then 5-year-old son from a supervised visit with his father, Tim Amacher.

An armed assailant dressed in all black can be seen running up behind Lenway, just moments before pulling the trigger, shooting her at point-blank range and fleeing from the scene. The shooter escaped in a black Dodge Ram truck.

The 911 call

Surveillance image: Nicki Lenway calls 911
An injured Nicki Lenway calls 911.

Hennepin County District Court


Lenway, 33, was no stranger to violence. She worked the night shift as a forensic scientist for the Minneapolis Police Department. She often found herself at crime scenes, but never the victim of one.

Right after being shot in the neck, Lenway called 911, but operators couldn’t understand her gurgled cries for help. Security footage from FamilyWise shows Lenway moments after the shooting.

A Good Samaritan’s help


Shooting victim reunited with bystander who saved her life

03:17

Emilie Clancy couldn’t believe what she saw and heard from the intersection across the street. Clancy was driving by when she saw a mysterious figure in black run up behind a woman (Lenway) and shoot her at point-blank range.

As soon as the light turned green, Clancy sped through the intersection and sped up next to Lenway. Clancy ushered Lenway into the car and took over the 911 call. Clancy applied pressure to Lenway’s neck and comforted her as she fought for her life. 

The race to save one of their own

Nicki Lenway on gurney
Nicki Lenway had been shot twice.

Hennepin County District Court


Within minutes, first responders arrived. The dramatic scene was captured on police body cameras. Lenway was loaded into the ambulance and soon lost consciousness. She had a perforated lung, severe damage to her vocal cords and a bullet lodged between two of her ribs. Lenway was in critical condition. 

Investigators at the scene

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On the ground outside the FamilyWise parenting center, investigators found three discharged bullet casings and blood.

Hennepin County District Court


As doctors worked to save Lenway, her colleagues at the police department got to work. At the crime scene, they found three discharged bullet casings and blood. Investigators headed inside the FamilyWise parenting center where Lenway had been headed to pick up her son. There they met the father of her child – her ex boyfriend, Tim Amacher. 

A solid alibi

Tim Amacher questioned
Police body cameras show Tim Amacher being questioned inside the FamilyWise parenting center where he was visiting with his son at the time of the shooting.

Hennepin County District Court


Officers caught up with Amacher as he was finishing up his visit with their 5-year-old son Callahan. Amacher had been at the center for hours, and he told investigators he had no idea what happened outside to Lenway. 

One of the detectives at the crime scene asked Amacher what cars he owned. Amacher told him he owned the Jeep he was driving and a Dodge Challenger sedan.

Searching for answers

lThe shooter running back to the black truck
This surveillance image shows the shooter running back to the black Dodge Ram truck.

Hennepin County District Court


Despite their efforts, investigators were initially limited. On surveillance video, they could see the shooter drove off in a black Dodge Ram truck.  But the truck had no license plate, and police couldn’t tell who was driving.

The next day, Lenway regained consciousness, and police were able to interview her in the hospital. They asked if she had any idea who would want to kill her. Right away, she told police that she was convinced her ex-boyfriend, Tim Amacher, had something to do with it. In an Interview with “48 Hours” correspondent Erin Moriarty, Lenway said, “I just knew it had something to do with Tim. I just knew … I didn’t know how he was involved, but he was involved.”

Who is Tim Amacher?

Tim Amacher
Tim Amacher

Charles Dettloff


Amacher was a well- liked local taekwondo instructor, who was known as a good friend and neighbor. For police it didn’t make sense that he could have done this, especially since they knew Amacher was inside FamilyWise at the time of the shooting, giving him a seemingly rock-solid alibi. 

Caught in a lie?

Tim Amacher's truck

Hennepin County District Court


Remember when investigators asked Amacher what vehicles he had?  It turns out Amacher owned a black Dodge Ram truck like the one the shooter drove off in, but at the scene he didn’t tell that to investigators.

A second round of questioning

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Hennepin County District Court


Police called Amacher in for a second interview.  They showed him stills of the truck from that surveillance video. Seemingly unruffled, he insisted it wasn’t his. Amacher said that his truck, unlike the one in the video, had a license plate and Superman decal stickers near both front doors. Besides, Amacher had an alibi — he was inside the FamilyWise center when Nicole Lenway was shot. How could he have shot Lenway and been the driver when his time was accounted for during the shooting? 

Amacher continued to insist he had nothing to do with the shooting. 

An unlikely suspect

Colleen Larson
Colleen Larson

Hennepin County District Court


In his interview with police, Amacher told Investigators that the only other person who had access to his truck was Colleen Larson. When Investigators asked Amacher if Larson might have a reason for wanting to shoot Nicole, he insisted that Larson was incapable of violence and quickly dismissed the question.

Larson was Amacher’s former taekwondo student and she was renting a room from him in his home. When police initially spoke to Larson, she denied being anywhere near the FamilyWise center when Lenway was shot.

A series of digital breadcrumbs

FBI digital trail evidence

Hennepin County District Court


Despite their denial, police didn’t believe Larson or Amacher.

Investigators turned to FBI special agent Richard Fennern, a technology specialist. When Fennern took a closer look at the case, he discovered that Amacher’s Dodge Ram truck had Wi-Fi, like a cellphone. And much like a cellphone, it created a digital trail. 

Agent Fennern set out to find out everywhere that Amacher and Larson went on the day of the shooting. He followed the digital trail left behind by their cellphones and the truck’s Wi-Fi.  Using those records, Fennern was able to figure out that at a certain point Larson was driving the black Dodge Ram truck that day and that black Dodge Ram truck was driven to the FamilyWise parenting center.

A raid reveals more evidence

Lenway shooting evidence
Bullets recovered from the search of Tim Amacher’s home.

Hennepin County District Court


A raid of Tim and Colleen’s house yielded more evidence – bullet casings matching the ones found at the crime scene. 

Arresting Colleen Larson

Collen Larson arrest photo
Colleen Larson was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree premeditated murder.

Hennepin County Sherriff’s Office


On April 28, 2022, Colleen Larson was arrested. She was charged with attempted first-degree premeditated murder. 

Arresting Tim Amacher

Tim Amacher arrest
Tim Amacher was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree premeditated murder and aiding an accomplice after the fact

Hennepin County District Court


Investigators suspected Larson was not working alone. Fennern suspected that Amacher had deliberately altered his truck’s appearance to throw police off their path. Fennern discovered that several hours before the shooting, Amacher had driven the black truck without plates and without the Superman stickers to a drive-thru at a local Kentucky Fried Chicken. Tim Amacher was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree premeditated murder and aiding an accomplice after the fact. 

A confession from Colleen Larson

Colleen Larson
Colleen Larson being questioned by investigators.

Hennepin County District Court


Police questioned Larson twice. The first time she denied any involvement, but during the second interview, which was recorded, she broke down and confessed. “I took the truck and I drove over there … and then I shot her.” 

Even though Larson admitted to pulling the trigger, she said the whole thing was Amacher’s idea.

Larson told police that after the shooting she got rid of the black clothes she wore to disguise her identity, but Amacher had disposed of the gun.

Amacher convicted

Tim Amacher
Tim Amacher was found guilty and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Minnesota Dept. of Corrections


On Nov. 3, 2022, Amacher’s trial began. There were no cameras in the courtroom. After an hour of deliberations, Amacher was found guilty of attempted first-degree premeditated murder and aiding his accomplice, Colleen Larson. Amacher was sentenced to 18 years in prison. 

Larson pleads guilty

Colleen Larson booking photo
Colleen Larson pleaded guilty to the charges against her and was sentenced to 16-and-a-half years in prison.

Minnesota Dept. of Corrections


Four days later,  Larson pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting attempted first-degree murder, avoiding a trial.  At her sentencing hearing, rather than speak for herself, Larson had her attorney read a statement. In it, she took full responsibility for all that had happened. Larson was sentenced to 16-and-a-half years, for doing what prosecutors believe, was Amacher’s bidding. 

A storybook ending and a new beginning

Nicki, Callahan and Donovan
Nicki, Callahan and Donovan 

CBS News


Alongside all the destruction, there are small miracles. Nicole Lenway has made a miraculous discovery and married the love of her life, Donovan Ford, a police officer. They are expecting a baby girl together and are overjoyed. 

As for the child, she shares with Amacher? Donovan told Moriarty, He’s come out amazing. That’s a miracle too, just him being able to deal with all the stuff he’s been through and still be the kid he is.”

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