The 20-year-old man with autism couldn't resist the offer of free cookies from the Cub Foods bakery. He was enjoying the treat inside the grocery store on Larpenteur Ave. in Roseville in early March when Timothy G. Knutsen of St. Paul spotted him munching away.
Knutsen, a 53-year-old off-duty security instructor, jumped into action because he believed the young customer had stolen the cookie, according to court records,
Knutsen's first move was to report the perceived malfeasance to the service desk. An employee told him there was nothing she could do.
So Knutsen opted for Plan B, according to police. He would confront the bakery's pro bono patron. Which is what he did when the man attempted to take a second free baked good.
When the cookie-eating man turned toward the self-deputized shopper, Knutsen discharged "'Freeze Plus P' chemical spray" -- a.k.a. mace -- into the victim's face, according to court documents.
With the mace in his face, the victim "started yelling and Knutsen left the store," according to police.
Roseville Police Officer Grant Dattilo arrived at the scene a short time later. He found the man out-of-sorts and "sitting on the floor in the store."
Knutsen called authorities two days later to give his side of the story. As first reported by the Pioneer Press, Knutsen said he saw the man taking food and he appeared in a drug-like “zombie state.”
Knutsen, court records say, would tell police that his action was “stupid,” but he wanted to let the victim know to "knock it off and took out his spray as a precautionary." Knutsen would also tell police he accidentally discharged the chemical spray.
Reached by phone Monday, Knutsen, who until last week was a director of training for American Security, a St. Paul firm that employs people engaged in security-related services, declined comment for this story.
He's been charged with two counts of fifth degree assault.
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