Man falls over cliff after alleged bookstore robbery

The man grappled with bookstore security guards by the river bluffs and rolled over.

Ian Larson

A 29-year-old St. Paul man fell over the Mississippi River bluffs Tuesday afternoon while fleeing Coffman Union bookstore security in an alleged book theft, police said. Security stopped the man at the west door near Starbucks when two textbooks stuffed in his jacket and pants triggered the alarm. The man, who was not a University student, told bookstore security that a tag on his shoe had set off the alarm. He then walked out the building and tried to retrieve a bicycle from nearby bushes, according to a police report. Three bookstore security personnel followed the suspect, who abandoned his bicycle and began to run toward East River Road near the bluffs, where the guards caught him, according to the report. The guards then wrestled with the man, who flailed his limbs and squirmed until he broke free, but as he rolled through the grass and weeds, the man slid down the bluffs to a lower ledge and yelled that he had been pushed over. He eventually fell almost all the way to the waterâÄôs edge, according to the report. The bookstore personnel radioed their location to police and watched for signs of the man on the banks of the river below. The man concealed himself in foliage on the cliff face and later admitted to University of Minnesota police that he had attempted to swim across the river and that âÄúif he had something he could have breathed out of, he would have gone in the water and [the police] would have never found him,âÄù the police report said. Two University police officers descended the bluffs and walked along the riverbank where they spotted the man, whose face was streaked with blue and brown. The man said it was an attempt at camouflaging himself, according to the report. The officer handcuffed the man and waited for a Minneapolis Fire Department boat to take him to East River Flats Park. The man, who said his wrist and leg were broken in the fall, was taken by ambulance to Hennepin County Medical Center according to the report. Further information about his condition was unavailable as of press time. Deputy Chief Chuck Miner of the University of Minnesota police said the incident may send a message to future would-be thieves. âÄúYou donâÄôt want to have word spread amongst thieves that as long as they can make it out of the building theyâÄôre fine, theyâÄôre home free, so there should be a practice or a policy of trying to apprehend these individuals,âÄù Miner said.