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Tensia Richard feared husband would reach 'breaking point'

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Tensia Marie Richard had feared for her life.

Sixteen months ago police were called after her husband, Chevel Charles Richard, verbally threatened her during a fight over a text message she had received.

The June 4, 2011, incident was not physical, but Chevel had a history of violent behavior and Tensia was frightened for her safety, according to police and court records.

"She was very afraid he was going to hurt her," said detective Sgt. Randy McAlister of the Cottage Grove Police Department.

The couple's at-times rocky relationship culminated in the horrific incident last Thursday outside a Gateway North strip mall. Police say Tensia was lured outside a Cottage Grove fitness gym by Chevel. They had a brief conversation before Chevel chased down and shot multiple rounds at Tensia, eventually killing her inside the Jimmy John's restaurant. He then shot himself and later died.

Chevel was arrested and jailed for fifth-degree domestic assault immediately after the June 2011 incident. Meanwhile, police were conducting what's known as a lethality assessment with Tensia. Her answers to 11 questions about his behavior, their history and other factors helped to determine the risk of Chevel killing his wife.

"She screened in as high risk," McAlister said.

Police reports indicated that Tensia "felt at some point there was going to be a breaking point with him and then he would really hurt her. She expressed this as one of her greatest fears."

A separate questionnaire called a danger assessment determined that she was in a relationship of "severe danger." Tensia told police her husband owned two handguns, was violently jealous at times, had spied on her, suffered from mental health problems and had tried to end his own life, once by cutting himself and another time by taking pills.

Relatives of Chevel Richard could not be reached for comment.

Tensia was put in contact with Tubman, a resource for family violence victims, right after the assault. Four days after the domestic assault, she received an order for protection against Chevel.

Chevel later was convicted of fifth-degree domestic assault in connection with the June 2011 incident.

Ten weeks after Tensia obtained the order for protection, it was dismissed.

By July 20 of this year, Chevel had met his probation conditions.

Police said the Richards, who had two young sons together, were living together until about two weeks before the Oct. 25 shooting. Then they split up. Chevel was living in an apartment in Eagan, and Tensia and their two children were living with her parents in Cottage Grove.

Police said she was in the process of seeking a divorce when she was killed by her estranged husband.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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