Police arrest three in Marcy-Holmes after string of violent robberies

There is still doubt whether the three men arrested are connected to attempted robberies of four students

by Ian Larson

Minneapolis Police have increased their patrols in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood after a string of four attempted assaults and robberies on Thursday night and early Friday morning. The effort that has yielded three arrests so far, Minneapolis police said. Four University students have reported being assaulted and robbed while walking within a three-block area in Marcy-Holmes during a five-hour span, according to police records. Minneapolis police arrested three men on Sunday night after the men fled when police tried to question them in connection with the robberies, said Sgt. Jesse Garcia of Minneapolis police. Police caught the men and found one of them, 19-year-old Tommie Atkins Jr. of Hopkins, carrying a handgun, according to a police report. Atkins was arrested and formally charged with carrying a handgun without a permit, according to Hennepin County records. A 19-year-old Minneapolis man and a 17-year-old male were also arrested, according to the report. Garcia said it was too early to draw a definitive connection between the arrests and the assaults. Inspector Bryan Schafer, 2nd precinct commander with the Minneapolis police, said the arrested parties matched the description of the attackers, and were in the same area at the same time of day, but the investigation is ongoing. âÄúThereâÄôs no absolute proof, but the fact of the matter is, these guys fit the MO and fit with everything that had been going on in those other incidents,âÄù Schafer said. âÄúWe have every reason to believe they were connected to [the assaults].âÄù Since the Sunday night arrests, the assaults and robberies in Marcy-Holmes have stopped, Schafer said. One of the victims of the Friday morning assault, marketing and communications sophomore Dana Petersen, was approached by two men when she and a friend were in Marcy-Holmes after dropping off a friend in the area. âÄúI was with another friend,âÄù she said. âÄúOne of [the men] held my friend back while the other one grabbed my purse and spun me around and assaulted me until he grabbed the purse and started running away.âÄù Petersen said a witness saw the assault and called police. When a University of Minnesota Police officer arrived, he drove Petersen to the house sheâÄôd been walking to. There, she described the incident and was treated by emergency medical technicians, who diagnosed her with a mild concussion, she said. While in the squad car, Petersen said she heard about one of the other assaults as she listened to the police radio. âÄúIâÄôm never going to walk alone at night again,âÄù she said. âÄúI never really thought it would happen to me.âÄù In another assault at 9:15 Thursday night, first-year student Joseph Groulx said he fought back against two men, whom he suspected had been following him while he walked to the 8th Street Market. âÄúI see these two guys, who are just shady-looking guys, and theyâÄôre just standing on the corner facing away from me,âÄù he recalled. When Groulx turned to check if the men were indeed following him, one chased him and then threw him into the grass beside the sidewalk, he said. Groulx and the assailant âÄúscuffledâÄù for several minutes, and Groulx suffered a bloody knee and a bruised torso, he said, adding that he began punching and kicking back when he realized the man was unarmed. Groulx eventually kicked the man off him and escaped. He ran towards the market to attract attention, and the attackers left the scene. Groulx said he didnâÄôt immediately report the crime because he didnâÄôt lose anything in the assault, but he read a crime alert sent out by University Police Chief Greg Hestness the next day and reported the incident to aid the investigation. Groulx met with investigators Tuesday to review photographs of possible suspects.