Bike bombs, gaffes, and Applebee's

This week's news, from Molotov cocktails on the Greenway to anchorman slip-ups and chain-restaurant assaults

On an afternoon last week, Drew Ditlefsen was biking eastbound on the Midtown Greenway when he says he received a very scary surprise.

As he passed under the 15th Avenue bridge, he heard a crash and glass breaking. Afraid more objects would be thrown at him, he kept moving, but he managed to look over his shoulder quickly and he could see the entire width of the Greenway in flames.

Apparently, a Molotov cocktail had been thrown at him.

"It was like the movies, almost," Ditlefsen said.

Ditlefsen says that by the time he felt comfortable turning around to get a good look at the two Molotov cocktail-throwers on the bridge, he was too far away to be able to provide suspect descriptions. And while there were many people on the Greenway at the time, Ditlefsen said he didn't think there were any witnesses to the incident besides himself.

Once he returned to Peace Coffee's Minneapolis headquarters, a co-worker told Ditlefsen he could smell the gas fumes on him. Ditlefsen called police and told them about the incident.

"The officer said in 13 years, he'd never seen anything like that," Ditlefsen said, adding that the officer said investigators would be trying to pull fingerprints from the broken glass left on the Greenway.

As someone who regularly uses the Greenway to make deliveries and to get to and from work, Ditlefsen said he uses it "just as much as anybody in the city." He said he's had things thrown at him while biking down it four or five times before — but nothing like this.

Gay gaffe

We've given C.J. a lot of grief, but we've got to give her credit. Last week, she broke a story about reporter Mark Saxenmeyer's dismissal from KSTP-TV.

Saxenmeyer, who is gay, lost his job for an ironic reason — an "inappropriate gay reference" he inserted into a story as a joke somehow wasn't edited out before the report was published online. The reference was to "big HOMO dads."

On Saturday, due to a scheduling conflict, Saxenmeyer handed off a story about gay Twin Cities fathers Paul Melchert and James Zimmerman visiting the White House for an Easter event to colleague Katherine Johnson. But in the process of trying to help Johnson with some prep work, Saxenmeyer pulled a prank that would cost him his job three days later.

The "inappropriate gay reference" that accidentally made it to the web was deleted as quickly as KSTP's editors spotted it, and this "Editor's Note" was then affixed to the story: "Earlier today comments were published erroneously regarding this story. KSTP does not condone the comments. Action is being taken to ensure that this does not happen again."

KSTP's news director wouldn't comment on what punishment Saxenmeyer received, but C.J. put two and two together when she tried to click on Saxenmeyer's KSTP bio but instead ended up on a page with an "ERROR" message.

Side order of hate

Timothy Phares is gay. He works as a server at the Applebee's in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and during the early morning hours of March 17 he was brutally attacked by a co-worker's husband in a Perkins parking lot.

According to Phares's account of the incident, moments before he got blasted in the head with a 2x4, the alleged assailant, 36-year-old Rien Hendricks, told him: "Fucking faggot, I'm going to kill you." Phares's co-worker was with her husband at the time and witnessed the incident, though she hasn't been charged with any crimes.

Phares was left with facial fractures that will require the insertion of metal plates. And to add insult to injury, Phares's Applebee's manager, Tara Steinberg, told him following the attack that she no longer wanted him to come to work because the alleged assault "had attracted so much negative publicity."

But Greg Flynn, CEO of Apple American Group and owner of the Rice Lake restaurant, intervened on Phares's behalf and overruled Steinberg. Phares remains on staff.

 
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