The laser dot targeting Trinity Briggs seemingly appeared out of nowhere.
Briggs was dropping off his girlfriend, Stephanie Harlan, at her apartment in the early morning of Aug. 18. They had picked up the girlfriend’s cousin, Anthony Harlan, and were celebrating Stephanie Harlan’s release from probation.
Then, in the car, Harlan pointed a handgun with a laser sight at Briggs’ back and fired, an Omaha police detective testified Wednesday. Briggs grabbed a knife and the two “tussled” in the car, Stephanie Harlan told police.
Briggs, 41, suffered three gunshot wounds and died in the car. Anthony Harlan, 28, was stabbed 15 times and limped to a residence two blocks away, leaving a bloody trail that led officers directly to him.
Briggs and Anthony Harlan had shaken hands when Harlan got in the car, and no arguments had occurred before the shooting, Stephanie Harlan later told police.
Anthony Harlan will stand trial on first-degree murder and other weapons charges, Douglas County Judge Jeffrey Marcuzzo ruled Wednesday.
Relatives of Briggs and Anthony Harlan attended the hearing, and the tension was evident. At one point, a Douglas County sheriff’s deputy told a woman to leave after she and another woman yelled at each other. Relatives of both men declined to comment.
Stephanie Harlan told Omaha Police Detective James Shade that she initially didn’t tell officers at the scene everything she knew about what she had seen. She had first said that “someone” had opened the car door and fired shots.
In a longer interview at police headquarters soon after the shooting, Stephanie Harlan told Shade that the shooter was Anthony Harlan, who also is known as “Action.” She was afraid to provide information about a family member because she was scared of her family, Shade testified.
Stephanie Harlan said Briggs had picked her up from work in a Toyota Camry on Aug. 17. They then went out drinking and meeting up with friends until early the next morning.
Anthony Harlan called his cousin, and they planned to meet at 36th and Lake Streets so Briggs and she could pick up Harlan.
The trio briefly stopped at another friend’s home, then headed back to North 48th and Sahler Streets so Briggs could drop off Harlan and her cousin. She was going to her apartment, and Harlan planned to walk to a nearby friend’s house, Shade said.
Stephanie Harlan told police that looked at her purse to grab her apartment keys and saw a red laser, then heard a gunshot. She jumped out of the car, saw Briggs grab a knife and watched him attack Harlan, Shade testified. She said she heard a total of three or four gunshots.
She then saw Harlan hold his right side and slowly walk away from the vehicle. She and a neighbor called 911.
Briggs suffered three gunshot wounds — the fatal one entering his neck and striking his heart, Shade said.
Officers followed the blood trail to a duplex near 49th Avenue and Boyd Street. They entered, announced their presence and saw Harlan run to a basement and then into a bedroom, where he fell. Harlan was taken to Nebraska Medical Center, where a doctor told police he was stabbed 13 times in the front of his body and twice in the back.
Shade spoke to Anthony Harlan in the hospital. Harlan said he had been drinking gin and smoking a cigarette dipped in PCP at a party near North 30th and Parker Streets. Then, he told Shade, he tripped and fell as he threw a gin bottle as he walked on 48th Street. The “next thing he knew,” Harlan told Shade, he was inside a home and covered in blood.
In a search of the duplex where police spotted Anthony Harlan, authorities found a bloody .40-caliber handgun with a laser sight above some basement duct work, Shade said. The blood later tested positive for Harlan’s DNA.