Police send alert after assaults

Kevin Behr

University Police Chief Greg Hestness sent an e-mail to students Friday alerting them to a string of assaults near campus.

The alert reminded students of the three assaults that happened on and around campus last weekend, offered safety tips and asked for information regarding the attacks.

The three assaults occurred within two hours of one another, less than a mile apart.

The first assault happened about 12:30 a.m. Sept. 9 near the intersection of 16th and University avenues southeast, according to the alert. The victim, who attends Bethel University, was able to return to classes Sept. 11, Hestness said.

The other two assaults happened on the same block of 12th Avenue Southeast in the Southeast Como neighborhood within 15 minutes of each other. The victims were hospitalized with head injuries, the alert said.

“It’s fairly clear the latter two were related,” Hestness said. It is too early to tell whether the third incident was related because University police are still in the early stages of investigation, he said.

“(The attacks) are very concerning because they’re random, unprovoked attacks,” Hestness said. “They’re vicious attacks with no motive.”

The recent assaults are examples of a growing problem near campus. The University is located within Minneapolis’ 2nd Precinct, where 34 aggravated assaults were reported for the month of August, according to Minneapolis Police Department statistics.

That is an increase of 113 percent from 16 cases in August of 2005, according to the statistics.

Actual on-campus crime numbers have stayed consistent, Hestness said.

“But that is irrelevant because the surrounding neighborhoods are heavily populated by students,” he said.

Johanna Grosse, a global studies junior who lives near Como Avenue Southeast, said she and her friends take safety precautions when they go out on the weekends. Her group usually tries to take a car, stays in groups, carries cell phones and visits well-lit areas, Grosse said.

“By now, I’m used to the danger,” she said. “I wish it didn’t happen, but it does.”

Possible bridge assault

University police responded to a report of an assault early Sunday on the Washington Avenue Bridge, Hestness said.

The bleeding victim was transported to the University Medical Center, Fairview, Hestness said. Police are unsure whether the victim’s injuries were the result of an assault, but they are investigating the case, he said.