Ben Van Handel wasn't Timothy Bakdash's intended target on the night he died


It was just last week that Timothy Ayman Bakdash was indicted on first degree murder charges in the death of Benjamin Van Handel. But the narrative of why Bakdash ran the U of M student down and killed him has changed considerably.

Van Handel apparently died in a case of mistaken identity.


As previously reported, Bakdash had indeed argued with a patron at the Library Bar in Dinkytown that night, April 15 -- but it wasn't Van Handel. The student was in the wrong place at the wrong time, walking down a sidewalk when Bakdash mowed him down.

Hennepin County Attorney's Office spokesman Chuck Laszwewski tells the Pioneer Press that the charges against Bakdash will stand, regardless of whether Van Handel was the intended victim or not.

"Bakdash has said he was in a fight and by God he was going to get some revenge, and he thought Van Handel walking down the street was the guy," Laszewski said. "Mistaken identity. So there you have it."

We still haven't seen a mug shot of Bakdash, who is being held at Hennepin County jail on $1 million bail. Prosecutors are holding on to it while they investigate the crime.

Police say Van Handel was on the sidewalk of 5th Street S.E., near 12th Avenue S.E., when Bakdash ran him down:

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2011 Minneapolis Homicides:

Krissy Bates, 45, was strangled, stabbed, and beaten to death on January 11 in her apartment at 1302 Linden Ave. Arnold Darwin Waukazo, her boyfriend, has been charged with murdering Bates, who was transgender.

Stanley Curtis Rogers, 58, was shot dead on the night of January 21 in what police describe as a robbery gone bad in an alley behind 3656 Clinton Ave. S. Ladell James Antone Johnson, 18, has been charged with his murder.

Jeremee Jon Kraskey, 32, died of multiple gunshot wounds early Saturday morning, February 26. Police found his body in the back yard of a home at 3520 14th Ave. S. near Powderhorn Park.

Stephanie Smith, 21, was shot and killed the night of March 28 as she was riding in a car on Park Avenue South with another man. Someone opened fire from another vehicle, and then sped away. There have been no arrests yet in the case.

Benjamin Van Handel, 23, a U of M student out late with friends in Dinkytown, was intentionally run over early in the morning on April 15. He died of his injuries April 21. Timothy Ayman Bakdash, 29, is charged with his murder.

Tomika Swoope, 19, was shot on April 25 in a suspected drive-by on Columbus Avenue South, near her home. Witnesses think she was mistaken for being a gang member. She died April 28 at Hennepin County Medical Center.

Keontrell Govan, 18, died the day after he was found shot in the alley behind the Church of St. Bridget in north Minneapolis on May 4. Ishmael Rashad Moore and Dashaunta D'Mar Gomez, both 17, have been charged with second degree murder in the case.

Kristopher Miller, 27, a popular staffer at North High School, was found shot dead in front of his home on May 11. Derrick Griffin, an associate pastor at the North Side's True Vine Missionary Baptist Church, has been charged with the murder.

Edward Trondell Baker, 24, was shot early in the morning of May 24 in the 5700 block of Sander Avenue, just a few blocks north of Highway 62 and the perimeter of Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport.