Robbery suspects caught

A plainclothes University police officer caught the two suspects off campus.

Elizabeth Cook

Police arrested two suspects in the process of robbery and kidnapping early Wednesday morning.

The incident occurred in Dinkytown near the corner of 12th Avenue Southeast and Fifth Street Southeast.

A plainclothes University officer was on patrol when he saw three men, two of whom matched descriptions of suspects from two earlier robberies Tuesday night in the southeast Minneapolis area, said Steve Johnson, deputy police chief for the University Police Department.

The officer approached the group to see what was going on, which happened to be a robbery in progress, he said.

The two suspects had confronted the victim with a gun and demanded his wallet and cell phone.

The victim complied, but then the suspects led him to an ATM and demanded he withdraw $300.

The two suspects were bringing the victim back to his truck, which they planned to steal, Johnson said.

The suspects used a BB gun pistol, which looks exactly like a handgun, Johnson said.

One suspect was booked at Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility and the other was booked at Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center because he was 17.

The reason the officer was in plainclothes was part of joint efforts between the Minneapolis Police Department and University police to curb the robberies on the University campus and surrounding neighborhoods.

The two departments have been working very closely, Johnson said, looking for trends and comparing their information on the robberies.

“It’s good police work,” Johnson said.

On Nov. 24, police arrested a male suspected of armed robbery earlier that evening.

The suspect was also booked at Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center because he was 15.

Police are still going to work to solve the robberies, Johnson said. “We’re certainly not figuring this is a complete end.”

Kendre Turonie, the coordinator for student and community relations at the University, said there is some concern with an increase in crime on and around campus.

But, with the recent arrests, she said, “I’m excited to hear there are some breakthroughs.”

Turoine expressed concern about students doubting the police officers’ work, and said she hopes they see law enforcement’s efforts.

“I think our officers are always paying attention,” Turoine said.

Jerry Rinehart, University vice provost for Student Affairs, said crime is increasing all over the city.

There has been a 21 percent increase in robberies for the entire city, Rinehart said.

Rinehart said the officers’ quick actions in Wednesday’s arrests was encouraging.

James De Sota, neighborhood coordinator for the Southeast Como Improvement Association, said that with the increase in armed robberies, residents are anxious and worried but that it’s encouraging to hear police are making progress.

“But at the same time, it seems like the word has gotten out (that crime is a problem),” De Sota said.

He said he thinks police are doing as well as they can with limited resources.