Angry driver allegedly brandishes gun

by Genevieve MacLeod

University Police arrested a Massachusetts man Monday after he allegedly threatened a University student with a gun during a traffic dispute.
Jeremiah Frederic Blank, 19, was arrested after about five Minneapolis and University police cars cornered his vehicle Monday night in the parking lot of Burger King at the intersection of 14th Avenue Southeast and Fifth Street Southeast.
Police were looking for the man after a University student reported Blank allegedly pulled out a gun during the traffic altercation earlier in the day. Police did not find a gun in Blank’s possession.
Clinton Bengtson, 21, a senior studying sociology of law, criminology and deviance, said Blank pulled in front of him while he was waiting at a red light to turn left from Cedar Avenue to Washington Avenue Southeast.
Bengtson said what happened next surprised him.
Blank showed him a gun and got out of his car screaming at him, Bengtson said. When Bengtson drove off, Blank followed, Bengtson said. Blank caught him at the stop sign exiting Washington Avenue Southeast on to East River Road near the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum.
“He started pounding on my back window,” Bengtson said. “He punched the back window a couple of times, and I took off into the parking ramp.”
Bengtson said he then asked a parking attendant to call the police as Blank drove up yelling, “Do you want to get shot?” Bengtson said he drove himself to the University Police station when the attendant tried to handle the situation without calling police.
University Police Sgt. Mike Listul said Blank is being held in Hennepin County Jail until the county decides whether to charge him. A decision is expected today. Assault with a deadly weapon is a felony.
Blank was also arrested for driving with a suspended license and underage drinking.
Listul said traffic-related arguments aren’t unusual.
“Often people get into arguments over others’ driving habits,” he said. “Fortunately, it doesn’t result in threats with violence and weapons, but, on occasion, it does.”
Two others in Blank’s vehicle, including a former University student, were cited for minor violations.
Former University student Christopher G. Jewell, 24, was cited for disorderly conduct and Gerald John Priebe, 19, was cited for having marijuana in the car.
In an unrelated incident, University Police arrested a University student and three others after a fight broke out in Coffman Memorial Union during a dance.
University liberal arts senior Phuc V. Nguyen, 19, was arrested for assault and disorderly conduct.
Three other people — Liem Q. Nguyen, 25, Liem Thanh Phan, 27, and a 17-year-old juvenile — were arrested for interfering with the police.
The fight broke out in the Great Hall in the basement of Coffman Union, said University Detective Brad Herberg. The fight then moved outside of Coffman where the people were arrested.
About 300 people were at the dance, Herberg said.
An officer was kicked during the fight, he added, saying additional charges would likely follow.
He said he was not clear who sponsored the dance.
University Police have issued a personal safety alert to all residents of campus dormitories after a group of about 10 people beat a University student in the parking lot between Frontier and Territorial residence halls Friday night.
Police are asking anyone with information about the beating to call 624-3550, or Detective Marianne Olson at 624-4879.