Watch CBS News

She survived being shot at point-blank range. Who wanted Nicki Lenway dead?

Who Wanted Nicki Lenway Dead?
Who Wanted Nicki Lenway Dead? 41:15

 Nicole "Nicki" Lenway, a crime scene investigator for the Minneapolis Police Department, was gunned down in broad daylight -- shot twice at point-blank range in a parking lot on the evening of April 20, 2022.

"Someone wanted me dead," Lenway tells "48 Hours" correspondent Erin Moriarty in her first television interview.

Lenway was shot while picking up her child from a parenting center. "That's when my life changed forever."

Lenway perp surveillance
Surveillance cameras captured the shooter targeting Nicole Lenway. Hennepin County District Court

"I'm halfway in between my vehicle and the door. And this person comes running up from behind me," Lenway tells Moriarty. "Shots were being fired. I fell to the ground … And the shooter stands over me and continues to try to shoot … I felt my neck and then could see the blood."

The shooting was caught on surveillance video. It was also witnessed by a woman in her car sitting at a red light.

"I … was just drivin' home … and I saw a person run up to another person," said Emilie Clancy, who pulled over to help until first responders arrived. "I heard two bangs and that other person collapsed." 

Lenway is alive today. But who wanted her dead? 


As Emilie Clancy later told police, she couldn't quite believe what she saw and heard on that April evening as she drove home from having dinner with a friend.

Emilie Clancy: I was coming up and I saw the two people and then all of a sudden I heard bang, bang!

Emilie Clancy: Stopped right here at this intersection.

As soon as the light turned green, Clancy sped through the intersection and pulled up next to the victim.

Emilie Clancy: I opened the door. I said," are you OK?" And she said, "No, I've been shot."

Nicole "Nicki" Lenway Ford was shot and bleeding in the parking lot of Familywise, a parenting center, where she had gone to pick up her son. The 33-year-old was no stranger to violence. She worked as a forensic scientist for the Minneapolis Police Department. And right after being shot, she called 911.

Surveillance image: Nicki Lenway calls 911
Left bleeding and struggling to breathe, Nicole Lenway called 911, but when the operator answered Lenway realized she was unable to speak. Hennepin County District Court

DISPATCH: 911, what is the address of the emergency?

NICOLE LENWAY: (inaudible, gargling sounds)

Emilie Clancy: She's barely breathing … could barely say any words other than her name … And I said, "get in the car."

Clancy took over the 911 call and followed the dispatcher's instructions.

Emilie Clancy: I could see that there was blood coming out of her neck. … they said … "put a jacket or something around her neck." And I said, "yeah, I have one right here."

Within minutes first responders arrived.

OFFICER (body cam video): Were you the one that called?


OFFICER: Where's the victim? Who's shot?

The dramatic scene was captured on police body cameras.

FRIEND (body cam video, outside car): Oh my God! Oh my God!

OFFICER: What's going on?

Emilie Clancy: She was scared. … really scared.

EMILIE CLANCY (body cam video): I've got pressure on the neck. She got shot in the arm as well.

Emilie Clancy: She was in a lot of pain. She was having a hard time breathing.

Shooting victim reunited with bystander who saved her life 03:17

Emilie Clancy: I just looked her in the eyes … And I said, "Nicki, we've got this. We've got this. … Just stay with me."

Emilie Clancy: I don't think we can ever recreate … how powerful of a moment that was. I just wanted her to know that she wasn't alone in this.

Emilie Clancy: And if that was the only thing I can give to this poor girl, like that -- that would mean something to me.

PARAMEDIC (body cam video | to Nicki): Alright, dear, Can you walk?  We're gonna get outside and we're gonna go into the ambulance—

PARAMEDIC: Gonna bring you to the hospital, alright?

Erin Moriarty: One of the most surprising things about the video … is that you had to walk to the ambulance.

Nicole Lenway: Yeah.

Erin Moriarty: I couldn't believe it…. Were you aware of how badly injured you were?

Nicole Lenway: I don't think so. … I think I was in shock maybe. I didn't realize how bad it was.

PARAMEDIC (body cam video): Try not to move your head left or right, OK?

Nicole was loaded into the ambulance, and soon lost consciousness. 

The news spread quickly that a Minneapolis police employee had been shot. Nicole's then-boyfriend, Minneapolis Police officer Donovan Ford, was at home.

Erin Moriarty: What is it like to get that phone call that the woman you love has just been shot?

Donovan Ford: I had no words. … I went flying down to the hospital. … I was in a panic.

When Ford arrived at the Hennepin County Medical Center, he wasn't prepared for what he saw.

Donovan Ford: She was basically unconscious … She had tubes down her throat and all that.

Erin Moriarty: When you did finally get to talk to a doctor, what did they tell you?

Donovan Ford: She's in bad shape. We're going to do our best to, you know, save her life, essentially.

Nicole had a perforated lung, severe damage to her vocal cords and a bullet lodged between two of her ribs. She was in critical condition.

Donovan Ford: I'm in law enforcement, so when they say critical, that means essentially they're close to the end. … and where she was shot, typically, people don't survive. … I was praying, a lot.

As doctors rushed to save Nicole, outside the FamilyWise parenting center her colleagues at the police department got to work.

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

On the ground they found three discharged bullet casings and blood. They quickly learned Nicole had been at FamilyWise to pick up her son who was on a scheduled visit with his father, her ex-boyfriend, Tim Amacher.

OFFICER (body cam video):  Are you Timothy, sir?


Officers caught up with Amacher, as he was finishing up his visit with their 5-year-old son Callahan. He had been at the center for hours.

OFFICER (body cam video): … and then you've been in the back with your son the entire time?

FAMILYWISE WORKER: Yes, he was in …

In the community, Tim Amacher was well liked, and a respected local taekwondo instructor. Amacher seemed worried about Nicole.

TIM AMACHER (body cam video): Is she OK? She going to be fine? 

OFFICER: I mean, she's stable right now, but it's really serious.

And he had an idea about what may have happened. He thought it had something to do with a case she worked.

Tim Amacher being questioned by an investigator. Hennepin County District Court

TIM AMACHER (to investigator): She was afraid cause she had thought people were driving by her house.

TIM AMACHER: She changed her last name to her middle name. … She shut down her social media.

TIM AMACHER: She had drive bys of Minneapolis coming to her house all the time. … She had me bring over my -- my shotgun to her house. … She was, she was in fear.

But police didn't find any obvious connections to Nicole's cases. They searched Tim's Jeep and asked if he owned any other cars.

OFFICER: This is your only car?

TIM AMACHER: No, no. I have a Challenger, too.

And then let him go.

Police continued to look for evidence, canvassing the building and surrounding area searching for security footage, and discovered cameras from FamilyWise, a bank across the street and an elementary school around the corner had captured every second.

The first images of Nicole arriving to pick up her son. Then someone dressed all in black running her down from behind. The moment the shots were fired. The shooter fleeing on foot and then driving off in a black Dodge Ram truck.

But the truck had no license plates, and police couldn't tell who was driving. The next day, Nicole regained consciousness, and she told police that she was sure she knew who was responsible.

Nicole Lenway: I just knew it had something to do with Tim. I just knew.

TIM AMACHER (to police): Well, of course, I'm gonna be the first guy you, guys, to look at.

Nicole Lenway: I didn't know how he was involved, but he was involved.


The tenets of the Korean martial art taekwondo include courtesy, self-control, integrity. The most skilled, like Tim Amacher, are called "Master."

Nicki would come to believe that Amacher was somehow involved in her shooting. But in the world of taekwondo --

Pat Zellmer: He was a very good instructor.

Pat and Claire Zellmer were part of a Amacher's tight group of friends, and also familiar with his World Taekwondo Academy.

Claire Zellmer: People would definitely refer to him as Master Amacher within the -- within his school. … But they would also, if they were still students and they were friendly outside of the school, he was still Master Amacher..

Tim Amacher
Tim Amacher Charles Dettloff

People gravitated to Amacher -- his physical skill, business savvy and easy confidence. A leader who seemed to have it all figured out.

Pat Zellmer: He's charismatic, driven, intense.

Claire Zellmer: He can draw people in and make them feel this connection with him.

And his reputation continued after dark.

Erin Moriarty: The mayor of the nightlife here?

Charlie Dettloff: I would say that's a fair assessment, very much so, very much so.

Charlie Dettloff knew Amacher well before he met Nicki, and witnessed firsthand, the power of Tim's personality. 

Charlie Dettloff: So, I moved back here in about 2001.

Erin Moriarty: And was Tim Amacher already living next door?

Charlie Dettloff: He was. He was living next door.

Amacher was a helpful neighbor, with style and appeal you couldn't miss.

Charlie Dettloff: He loved fashion. Loved the right jeans, and the right shirt, and the right boot. … And always had to be the best.

Erin Moriarty: Was he a good friend to you?

Charlie Dettloff: Yeah, he was a great friend.

Erin Moriarty: And where was Tim living?

Charlie Dettloff (pointing at Amacher's house): Tim's bedroom was in the back corner here.

And according to Dettloff, there was a waiting list of women who wanted into Amacher's bedroom.

Charlie Dettloff: Coming and going. Yeah, they would pull up right here … the front light here was um, purple and if that light was on then the women knew they could go in.

Erin Moriarty: Are you serious?

Charlie Dettloff: I'm not kidding. It was almost like the, you know, the red light district.

Erin Moriarty: Juggling a lot of women.

Pat Zellmer: Yes.

Erin Moriarty: At once?

Pat Zellmer: Yes, of course. … It seemed like there was a different girl every night.

Erin Moriarty: What did women see in him?

Claire Zellmer: I don't know because I didn't see it.

But many other women seemed to see much in Tim Amacher.

Erin Moriarty: How did you meet Tim?

Nicole Lenway: I met Tim by going to his gym.

Erin Moriarty: And when did you start dating?

Nicolei Lenway: Shortly after.

Nicole was responsible and grounded. Amacher's close friends quickly understood the attraction.

Charlie Dettloff: There was something special about her. She's smart, she's pretty, she's outgoing. She's got it all.

Nicole Lenway: At first I actually wasn't really interested. But he was very persistent. … And uh, he just kind of wore me down and I kind of -- I started enjoying our time together.

Erin Moriarty: And he was older.

Nicole Lenway: Right. … He had experienced more life than me and it was exciting.

Tim Amacher and Nicki Lenway
Tim Amacher and Nicole Lenway Nicole Lenway

They moved in together in early 2014. But friends say Amacher still wasn't faithful.

Erin Moriarty: Did you try to warn her about Tim and his women?

Claire Zellmer: About his womanizing? Yes, absolutely.

Nicole Lenway: There were a lot of red flags.

Erin Moriarty: A lot of jealousy?

Nicole Lenway: Yes.

Pat Zellmer: They fought constantly. It was almost like a perpetual argument, verging on a fight.

Erin Moriarty: Did you ever see him violent or hurtful towards her?

Pat Zellmer: I did not, no.

But Nicole would tell investigators Amacher was violent.

Nicole Lenway: One night he threw me against the wall holding my neck.

Erin Moriarty: Why did you stay even as long as you did?

Nicki Lenway: I ask myself that all the time. I don't know. I think I felt trapped.  And you know he just got into my brain so badly.

She says that on a trip to Las Vegas an angry, alcohol fueled Amacher threw a lamp across the room.

Nicole Lenway: It was terrifying. I locked myself in the bathroom.

Nicki Lenway
Nicole Lenway said she and Amacher had a long and rocky history that included allegations of abuse — "One night he threw me against the wall holding my neck."  CBS News

In September 2015, Nicole, then 26 years old, had more than enough. But she says now that breaking away from Amacher was anything but easy. 

Nicole Lenway: I packed my bags, and I started walking out. … And he pulled me back into the house by my ponytail and dragged me into the bedroom. And after that I was like I am done.

Nicole moved out. And an 18-year-old student of Amacher's moved in, renting out one of his rooms. Her name: Colleen Larson.

Charlie Dettloff: Seemed absolutely lovely, nice girl … I think she's very smart. Probably book smart, not street smart.

Larson had begun studying with Amacher when she was barely a teenager. Tim's friends say she seemed infatuated with him.

Pat Zellmer: He's her instructor. He's her Master, you know, for 10-plus years at this point.

Claire Zellmer: It just seemed she was like this little puppy dog wanting to impress him.

Pat Zellmer: Like a child and an adult, in that respect.

Claire Zellmer: Yes.

They say Larson seemed delighted to be living with the man she had idolized since she was young. As for Nicole, she hoped to have no further contact with Amacher.

But very soon. they all got some unexpected news.

Nicki Lenway: I found out then I was pregnant. … And he wanted me to get rid of the baby. And I told him I just couldn't. … And I was in a state of panic.


OFFICER (April 20, 2020 | body cam video): Are -- are you Timothy, sir?


OFFICER: OK, right now, I'm gonna ask you if I can search you for weapons real quick, OK?                                   

TIM AMACHER: For weapons?


Police body cameras show Tim Amacher being questioned inside the FamilyWise parenting center, where he was visiting with his son on April 20, 2022. Hennepin County District Court

Detectives needed to know all about Nicki's relationship with her son's father, Tim Amcher.

TIM AMACHER: Why would I have weapons here?

OFFICER: There was a shooting that happened.

TIM AMACHER: OK -- Which, that had nothing to do with me.


The investigation would track a trail that led back to the fall of 2015, when Nicole first learned she was pregnant, with the taekwondo Master she alleged had abused her.

Nicole Lenway: It just got more and more volatile.

Claire Zellmer: We were so excited for them to be having a baby. That's a momentous event -- a happy thing to normal people.

But the only thing normal was the irrepressible joy of a new mother. She named him Callahan.

Nicole Lenway: He was born on June 20th of 2016. … He was a big boy. And he was perfect.

Claire Zellmer: And then she gave him the last name Amacher.

Nicole was the primary caregiver. But sometimes Cal stayed with his dad.

Erin Moriarty: Did you feel that co-parenting was working?

Nicki Lenway: I felt like it could.

But he wasn't always reliable, says Nicole.  When she needed him most, Amacher was halfway around the world.

Pat Zellmer: Tim went to Thailand and totally bailed on Christmas and New Year's.

Amacher may not have been a hands-on dad, but someone else was ready to step in: Colleen Larson, his longtime taekwondo student who was renting that room in Tim's house.

Charlie Dettloff: She was … very kind to Callahan, she was a good caregiver to him.

And with unpredictable hours with the Minneapolis Police Department, the arrangement seemed to work for Nicole.

Nicki Lenway: My son really seemed to like her.

Colleen Larson
Colleen Larson had been Tim Amacher's taekwondo student since she was an adolescent. When she was 18 years old, she moved in with Amacher and their relationship would eventually become romantic.  Hennepin County District Court

When the once young taekwondo student turned 18, her relationship with Tim Amacher quietly changed according to Dettloff.

Erin Moriarty: Did you get the sense he was in love with Colleen?

Charlie Dettloff: No. Not at all. I think she was very much in love with him.

Dettloff says Amacher called the relationship "easy."

Charlie Dettloff:  She would call him "Master."

Erin Moriarty: At the house?

Charlie Dettloff: Yep, Master Amacher. … And ultimately kinda became, you know, like a maid or a servant to him.

Then, in the summer of 2017, Nicole's life took a dramatic turn.

Erin Moriarty: Do you remember when you first met Nicole?

Donovan Ford: Absolutely.

It was the kind of love at first sight that only a cop on the beat could have.

Donovan Ford: First time I ever saw her was on a burglary call. … I definitely took notice at that point.

Erin Moriarty: Why?

Donovan Ford: She's gorgeous.

And to Donovan Ford, intriguing.

Donovan Ford: She processed the scene.

Erin Moriarty: So, she was a member of the real CSI.

Donovan Ford: Oh, yeah.

Nicole Lenway: He knew that I was a single mom. And he was divorced.

Erin Moriarty: When I just mentioned his name you lit up. Why is that?

Nicole Lenway: He is truly the love of my life. He has been the biggest blessing to myself and my son.

Erin Moriarty: And he's been through a lot with you, hasn't he?

Nicole Lenway: He has.

Nicki and Donovan Ford
Nicole and Donovan Ford Nicole Lenway

Nicole's already difficult relationship with Amacher only got worse when Tim discovered she was dating Donovan Ford, who was fast becoming part of Callahan's life.

Erin Moriarty: Did the way … he dealt with Cal change after you started dating Donovan?

Nicole Lenway: It did …  He wanted him all the time.

And Amacher didn't want Ford around his son. He accused Donovan of saying negative things about Colleen Larson. Then Amacher called Ford and left this angry voice message: "Man up for once in your life and quit hiding behind the badge."

Donovan Ford: And then I started getting text messages.

Like the one where Amacher claimed Ford was destroying his family.

It ignited what can only be called a war that would grow treacherous. And it wouldn't be a short one.

Erin Moriarty: How would you describe the last six years?

Nicole Lenway: It has been chaos.

Nicole claims Amacher tried to destroy her.

Nicole Lenway: Like," I'm going to take everything from you."

Erin Moriarty: Did you believe him?

Nicole Lenway: I did.

The black belt's new weapon of choice was the legal system.

Charlie Dettloff: It was the relentless number of motions before the court.

He reported Nicole to Child Protection Services multiple times, accusing her and Ford of physical and sexual abuse.

Erin Moriarty: Children Services show up at your house?

Nicole Lenway: Yes. … I had them in and out of my home for three years.

Amacher filed for custody of Cal. And Nicole filed for an order of protection from Amacher.

Not a single one of the allegations against Nicole or Ford was found to have substance.

Erin Moriarty: Did you see anything that concerned you or made you think that Cal had been abused?

Charlie Dettloff: No, nothing.

Claire Zellmer: No.

Pat Zellmer: Not at all.

Claire Zellmer: He was a well-loved child.

But Amacher didn't stop there. He also filed complaints to the police department about Donovan Ford.

Donovan Ford
Donovan Ford tells "48 Hours" that Tim Amacher also filed complaints to the police department about him. CBS News

Erin Moriarty: You were investigated then?

Donovan Ford: Mm hmm.

Erin Moriarty: And what was the finding?

Donovan Ford: Nothing happened.

Erin Moriarty: It continued?

Donovan Ford: Yup. Allegation after allegation.

And then in May of 2018, Amacher alleged Nicki ran over his foot with her car.

Nicole Lenway: I was charged with domestic assault.

The proud crime scene investigator was now a humiliated defendant.

Nicole Lenway: I never thought I would be at the defense table.

Erin Moriarty: How long was the jury out on that?

Nicole Lenway:: Less than 15 minutes. … I was found not guilty.

But the battle for Callahan raged on. And the child got caught in the middle.

Nicole Lenway: You could tell he was very conflicted.

Charlie Dettloff: Callahan was a pawn. It wasn't about Callahan, or Callahan's wellbeing. … It was about inflicting the maximum amount of damage on Nicki.

In the fall of 2020, the trial for custody of Callahan began. When it was over, the judge awarded Nicole sole legal and physical custody. Amacher was allowed just one supervised visit a week. Tim Amacher, once a champion, was now boxed into a corner. He was allowed no contact alone with his son. And cops thought that might be a motive for him wanting Nicki dead.

Police would hone in on the crime scene. Remember that black Dodge Ram truck that the shooter drove off in? Turns out Amacher had lied to the cops -- he owned a truck just like it.


Patrick Lofton: A good homicide detective will tell you is it's just good to know what vehicles anybody owns, whether they're a witness, whether they're a suspect, whether they're a victim, because people use their vehicles. And that's how you can figure out things. That's how you can pursue leads.

On the night of Nicole's shooting, Assistant Hennepin County attorneys Patrick Lofton and Jacob Fischmann say that police were determined to find out who was driving that black Dodge truck.

Jacob Fischmann: A black Dodge Ram is a very, very common car.

And authorities had asked Tim Amacher what he owned.

OFFICER (body cam video): This is your only car?

TIM AMACHER: No, no. I have a Dodge Challenger, too.

A Dodge Challenger sedan and a Jeep. But it turned out that Amacher did have another vehicle: a black Dodge Ram truck that looked a lot like the one seen leaving the area after the shooting.

Patrick Lofton: That raised the alarm bells for the Minneapolis Police Department.

Tim Amacher insisted the Black Dodge Ram truck in the surveillance photos was not his. Hennepin County District Court

Police called Amacher in for a second interview. They showed him stills of the truck from that video. Seemingly unruffled, he insisted it wasn't his.

OFFICER: So, this is a picture right here.

TIM AMACHER: That's not my truck.

TIM AMACHER: Those pictures were not pictures of my truck.

Amacher claimed his truck, unlike the one in the video, had a license plate and Superman decal stickers near both front doors.

Jacob Fischmann: Where is the Superman logo? Case closed. Superman logo is not on the truck. Couldn't have been me.

TIM AMACHER (to police at FamilyWise): I've been here the whole time. I don't know what happened out there. I'm not ...

What's more, he had an alibi: he was inside the FamilyWise center when Nicole was shot. So even if it was his truck, he couldn't be the driver.

OFFICER: Who else has access to the truck?

TIM AMACHER: Uh, Colleen has access to it.

Colleen Larson, Amacher's former taekwondo student.

OFFICER: Is she the only one?

TIM AMACHER: Um, to my knowledge.

To police, the pieces of the puzzle were coming together. Nicole had said she thought the shooter was a woman.

OFFICER: So, let me ask you this. Is there any reason why Colleen would want to shoot Nicole.

TIM AMACHER: Oh, hell no. She wouldn't hurt anybody.

Amacher insisted Larson was incapable of violence. And Larson, who was also brought in for questioning, insisted she was nowhere near FamilyWise that night.

Patrick Lofton: She said that she came home from work as usual, went inside, took a shower, and was there until Tim got home.

But police didn't believe either one of them and turned to FBI special agent Richard Fennern, a technology specialist. He discovered that Amacher's truck had Wi-Fi and, like a cellphone, creates a digital trail. 

Richard Fennern: We could track it much like we could a cellphone.

Fennern wanted to know everywhere Amacher and Larson went the day of the shooting. Their cellphones and the Black Dodge truck left plenty of digital breadcrumbs.

Richard Fennern: With phones, with cars, whatever you have, they're gonna tell you the truth. Their records always tell you the truth.

On the afternoon of the shooting, Amacher and Larson were both at the taekwondo studio. Around 4 p.m., Amacher left to go to FamilyWise for the visit with his son. He was driving the Jeep. Later, Larson left the studio, in the black truck, to go home.

Erin Moriarty: And how can you tell that?

Richard Fennern: That's from the cellphone records.

Erin Moriarty: So, not only the truck, but her cellphone?

Richard Fennern: Correct.

Just after 7 p.m., Fennern says, the black truck left the couple's residence and headed straight to FamilyWise.

Colleen Larson, dressed in black," appears to be walking around, essentially scoping out the area ... planning her next steps," according to prosecutor Jacob Fischmann. Hennepin County District Court

Jacob Fischmann: Now, we see that person who is walking.

Erin Moriarty: Right here.

Jacob Fischmann: That is Colleen Larson.

Colleen Larson did leave her house. And detectives placed her directly at the scene.

Jacob Fischmann: She appears to be walking around, essentially scoping out the area. …  I believe she is … planning her next steps.

A raid of the couple's house yielded more evidence: bullet casings matching the ones found at the crime scene.

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. . She was charged with attempted first-degree premeditated murder. But was Tim Amacher involved?

Agent Fennern suspected that Amacher had deliberately altered his truck's appearance to throw cops off his path. He discovered that several hours before the shooting, Amacher had driven the black truck to a drive-thru at a local Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Richard Fennern: We pull surveillance video, there's that same truck without the decal, without the license plate. 

For police, it was enough. Tim Amacher was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree premeditated murder and aiding an accomplice after the fact.

Jacob Fischmann: When you do something to significantly further or assist in a crime, you are just as culpable as the person that actually pulls the trigger.

Nicole was not surprised to hear that Amacher had been arrested, but she was shocked to find out about Larson. 

Erin Moriarty: Why would she shoot you?

Nicole Lenway: I don't know.

This time, when Larson was questioned by police, she broke down and confessed to shooting Nicole.

COLLEEN LARSON (to police): I took the truck and I drove over there… and then I shot her.

Colleen Larson
During Colleen Larson's second interview with police, 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. Hennepin County District Court

And she says Amacher was behind it.

INVESTIGATOR: Whose idea was it to shoot Nicole?


INVESTIGATOR: So, he asked you, if you felt -- if you comfortable would you shoot Nicole for me?



She said she believed Amacher's story that Nicole was abusing Callahan.

COLLEEN LARSON: She was doing bad things to her child… And I wanted to help the little man (cries).

After the shooting, she told police, Amacher disposed of the gun.

COLLEEN LARSON: He just said he would take care of it.

INVESTIGATOR: He just said he would take care of it …

INVESTIGATOR: So, you have no idea what he did with the gun?

COLLEEN LARSON: Not exactly, no. (crying)

Still, Amacher continued to deny any involvement.

On Nov. 3, 2022, Tim Amacher's trial began. There were no cameras in the courtroom. Prosecutors knew they had to show the jury that Nicole wasn't abusing her son, and that it was Amacher who had been victimizing her for a long time.

Jacob Fischmann: What happened behind the scenes wasn't just this couple seconds of horror that Nicole had to suffer at FamilyWise. It was 10 years of hell that he put her through.

Amacher and his lawyers refused our request for an interview. But "48 Hours" consultant and defense attorney Matthew Troiano reviewed their case for us.

Matthew Troiano: There's obviously no direct evidence of Tim's guilt, zero. He has a rock-solid alibi about where he was at the time that this happened.

According to Troiano, the prosecutors needed to build their case by focusing on Amacher's lies, and his past treatment of Nicole, because there was no smoking gun that directly tied Tim to the shooting.

Matthew Troiano: There is circumstantial evidence … the truck … the lies … Those are all kind of circumstantial pieces that tie back to him. … But there is no direct evidence of … him specifically buying or doing or having something that led to this act.

The defense called no witnesses to the stand. Troiano thinks they were betting the prosecution just hadn't made its case.

Matthew Troiano: Where's the proof? Where's the evidence?

As the jury went out to deliberate, prosecutors were concerned.

Jacob Fischmann: Of course, we were very worried.

Erin Moriarty: There is a chance this guy is gonna walk.

Jacob Fischmann: Absolutely.

Erin Moriarty: How nervous were you?

Nicole Lenway: Really nervous.


Those sacred tenets of taekwondo -- self-control and integrity. Could the Master win this battle? The jury took an hour to decide.

Nicole Lenway: He was found guilty.

Donovan Ford: Guilty on all counts.

Tim Amacher is found guilty of premeditated attempted murder and aiding his accomplice, Colleen Larson.

Erin Moriarty: And how did you both feel about that?

Claire Zellmer: Relieved. Joyous.

Pat Zellmer: And justice for Nicki.

Nicole Lenway: I almost didn't believe it. … Finally, we had some type of closure.

At sentencing, Nicole wanted Judge Shereen Askalani to hear all she endured. To protect her, the judge kept most of Nicole's statement off camera.

But the memories of that point-blank moment will clearly never be forgotten.

Nicole Lenway: I can still feel the burning sensation and the utter fear of not being able to speak or to help myself. … I truly thought I was dying that day … Even though I feel like the truth is starting to come to light, I still live in fear.

Amacher, who'd refused to testify at his trial, now decided to speak. The court allowed his plea for leniency to be heard and filmed.

TIM AMACHER (addressing the judge): It is no secret how broken this system is … The main message that I felt called here to say goes as this, for all who are led by the spirit of God, are sons of god, but with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by your or by any human court ...

Erin Moriarty: How would you describe his statement?

Nicole Lenway: Erratic:  … blaming everybody else. He was the victim, and this happened to him.

Erin Moriarty: Did he show any kind of remorse?

Nicole Lenway: No.

Judge Askalani had no patience for Amacher and his claims that Nicole had been abusive.

JUDGE SHEREEN ASKALANI: It appears that you have been promoting this false narrative about Ms. Ford for so long that you may actually believe it at this time.

Then she sentenced him to 18 years in prison.

Just four days later, Colleen Larson pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting first-degree attempted murder. 

At her sentencing hearing, rather than speak for herself, Larson had her attorney read a statement. She took full responsibility for all that had happened:

DANIEL ADKINS (reading): "Your Honor, I stand before you with the utmost respect for the decision to come. … I accept all the consequences for my actions. I understand and want to atone for what I have done. … A simple apology cannot cover the long-term damages that I have caused."

JUDGE SHEREEN ASKALANI: Anything additional from you at this time?


Pat Zellmer: Colleen's got a killer in her. She did it. There's no, no question she had the capacity.

Tim Amacher and Colleen Larson
Tim Amacher was found guilty of premeditated attempted murder and aiding his accomplice, Colleen Larson, and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. A few days later, Larson pleaded guilty to first-degree premeditated attempted murder. She was sentenced to 16-and-a-half years. Minnesota Dept. of Corrections

Larson was sentenced to 16-and-a-half years for doing what prosecutors say was Amacher's bidding.

Nicole Lenway: I think she wanted his approval and his love so badly that she would do anything. … And she was in this delusional fantasyland where she thinks, you know, if I wasn't around that they could run off into the sunset with Callahan and be a happy little family.

Erin Moriarty: But how does somebody convince another person who's never committed a crime to shoot someone?

Pat Zellmer: It's wild. Cal?

Claire Zellmer: I would love the answers to that because that's where we're stuck, too.

Attorney Matthew Troiano wonders if Amacher had been controlling Colleen for years.

Mathew Troiano: Why would she do this? … It's the fact that she had known this person since she's 12 years old. They had been in this kind of dominant subservient relationship where he's the master, she's the student. He is the boss.

One woman who once dated Amacher, who doesn't want to be named or have her face shown, says she knows firsthand the powerful hold Amacher can have on the women in his life.

Jane Doe: Yes, it was a high to be around him.

Erin Moriarty: And that you wanted to do whatever you could to hang onto that high?

Jane Doe: Yes.

She says she was once under Amacher's spell— but is certain she would never kill for him. Still, she sees some of herself in Larson.

Jane Doe: And I feel like that was me. Yep, I definitely feel like I was willing to do whatever I could to make him approve of me and want to be with me.

With good behavior, Tim Amacher could be out of prison by 2034.

Erin Moriarty: Do you think you'll ever feel truly safe again?

Nicole Lenway: No.

Erin Moriarty: You'll always have to be looking over your shoulder?

Nicole Lenway: I think so.

It all still haunts Donovan Ford -- the shots fired, the woman he loves fighting for her life.

Erin Moriarty: Do you still see that in your head?

Donovan Ford: Absolutely. Oh, yeah.

Erin Moriarty: Still fear that you could lose her.

Donovan Ford: Yeah, mm hmm. All the time.

Yet alongside the destruction, there are miracles in this story.

Emile Clancy: Hello.

Nicole Lenway: Hello.

Emile Clancy:  Good to see you again.

Nicole Lenway: Good to see you too. … Almost exactly a year.

Emile Clancy: I know.

Emilie Clancy: You looks so well!

Nicole Lenway: Thank you!

Emilie Clancy and Nicole Lenway reunited a year after the shooting. CBS News

"48 Hours" asked for this one-of-a-kind reunion with Emilie Clancy, who raced to help a stranger -- saving Nicole's life.

Nicole Lenway: And we are expecting a baby!

Emilie Clancy: Congratulations!

Nicole Lenway: Thank you.

Emile Clancy:  Oh, I'm so happy for you.

Nicole Lenway: Thank you.

Ford and Nicole, now husband and wife, had just gotten the good news.

Donovan Ford: And I was like, "are you serious?" And she's like, "yup." And then we're just hugging and happy.

As for the child Nicole had with Tim Amacher --

Erin Moriarty: How old is Callahan now?

Nicki Lenway: He's 6.

Erin Moriarty: Does he know that his dad tried to kill you?

Nicki Lenway: He does now.

Erin Moriarty: And how did he take that?

Nicki Lenway: Better than I thought he would.

Donovan Ford: 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.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, call 1-800-799-SAFE or visit



Produced by Betsy Shuller and Jamie Stolz. Elena DiFiore is the development producer. Doreen Schechter is the producer/editor. Tamara Weitzman and Michelle Sigona are development producers. Atticus Brady and Joan Adelman are editors. Shaheen Tokhi is the associate producer. Patti Aronofsky is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.