Downtown Minneapolis rocked by six violent "flash mob" attacks during last two months

If you needed proof that some people really do get their jollies from inflicting senseless harm upon others, consider what happened last Friday evening in downtown Minneapolis near Fifth and Nicollet.

A trio of cyclists were biking down Nicollet Mall about 7:45 p.m. when a group of men at a bus stop suddenly approached them and started throwing punches. One of the bikers was left with a broken jaw; another was beaten but sustained less serious injuries.

The incident happened right in front of Minneapolis police, who chased the 15 to 20 suspects and ended up arresting one adult and several juveniles. It was the sixth "flash mob"-style attack since the beginning of February.

Sgt. Steve McCarty of the Minneapolis Police Department told KARE 11 that the perpetrators seem to be motivated by nothing more than the desire to act violently.

"It's just mainly to create mayhem, assault people and just whatever they can do," he said. "It's a weird mentality I don't think a lot of people can fathom or understand. Just to victimize people."

Officers have stepped up patrols in areas where the incidents have occurred, but last Friday's biker beatdown suggests added police presence isn't a surefire deterrent.

The Star Tribune runs down the other recent flash mob-style attacks:

• Feb. 3: 9:25 p.m. at Seventh Street and Nicollet Mall. Several suspects, one displaying a handgun, assault a group of five young men, ages 18 to 19. No serious injuries or arrests.

• Feb. 20: 2:22 a.m. at 119 N. Fourth St. Six to seven young men, one with a handgun, threaten and then assault a 28-year-old St. Paul man, taking his cellphone and leaving him with face and torso injuries that did not require hospitalization. No immediate arrests.

• Feb. 25: 2 a.m. at 413 Nicollet Mall. Suspects assault two men, ages 22 and 25. Neither victim required hospitalization. No immediate arrests.

• March 11: 8 p.m. at Sixth Street and Nicollet Mall. Four men, ages 21 to 30, attacked. Two bikes stolen; one recovered. No hospitalization or arrests.

• March 17: 11:45 p.m. at 90 S. Seventh St. Two men, ages 23 and 27, are attacked. The younger man is seriously injured and admitted to intensive care at Hennepin County Medical Center.

The suspects involved in last Friday's incident didn't seem to be out to rob anyone, just to inflect pain upon the unsuspecting bikers. It was senseless violence in the most literal meaning of the term, and the trend is a "big concern" for Inspector Kris Arneson, who oversees downtown law enforcement.

See also:
-- Minneapolis flash mob beatings: Victim's mother details St. Patrick's Day attack

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