Andy Greder and Tad Vezner, Pioneer Press, August 10, 2013
Four young males have been arrested after the senseless, brutal beating of a man on a late-night walk Sunday on St. Paul’s East Side, police said Friday.
The victim, Ray Widstrand, 26, of St. Paul, reportedly was in critical condition at Regions Hospital with potentially fatal brain swelling.
Police found Widstrand lying on the ground, bleeding from his nose and mouth, his pants removed and shirt torn, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Ramsey County attorney’s office.
“He’s in the most difficult time right now, as far as swelling and cranial pressure. We’re in that critical time,” his father, Peter Widstrand, said.
According to the complaint, Widstrand was attacked when he tried to walk through a group of 30 to 50 juveniles and young adults fighting near Payne and Minnehaha avenues in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood about 11:30 p.m. Sunday.
His family said he had been living in a nearby apartment for about two months.
“An innocent man was walking down the street and brutally attacked by a group of youth,” said Sgt. Paul Paulos, a police spokesman. “He was out for a walk and decided to go through this group and was assaulted and knocked unconscious.”
On Friday, Ramsey County prosecutors charged Issac Maiden, 19, of St. Paul with first-degree assault, first-degree aggravated robbery and crime committed for the benefit of a gang.
Meanwhile, three juvenile males were arrested Friday, authorities said.
A neighbor who saw Sunday’s fight from her window said the brawl erupted in the middle of Preble Street just south of Minnehaha Avenue.
She said dozens of people appeared to be attacking each other in groups. She said the crowd dispersed at the sound of police sirens.
Afterward, she said, she saw a person lying on the corner of Preble and Minnehaha.
The county attorney’s office said many of the fight’s participants were believed to be members of the East Side Boys gang or its younger affiliate, Ham Crazy.
According to the complaint, the chaos began with a fight outside a party at a residence on Prebele Street.
A witness said someone struck Widstrand in the head and knocked him to the ground; she said she saw blood coming from his head.
The witness said a second man then hit and stomped on Widstrand. A third man removed his pants.
The witness said the man was hit and beaten for no reason.
A second witness said Widstrand was assaulted when he walked into the area. When Widstrand went down, a “whole bunch of little East Side Boys” began to kick him, the complaint said.
When his pants were removed, they went through his pockets.
The second witness said the first person to hit Widstrand did it with a can in a sock. She tried to protect the man from people kicking and stomping him, while another witness said someone at the scene tried to use Mace to stop the attack, the complaint said.
A third witness identified Maiden as a man who stomped on Widstrand, based on a photo taken at the scene, the complaint said.
During the investigation, the shoes of several suspects were taken to be processed for evidence.
The scene was within blocks of the police department’s Eastern District office at 722 Payne Ave. Paulos said police plan extra patrols and other measures in the area.
“We are taking all resources necessary to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.