Just after midnight this morning, two 21-year-old women were walking when they were robbed and stabbed near the intersection of Hennepin and University Avenues in Northeast.
The suspect, who one eyewitness describes to us as a "rather heavyset, kinda fat African American," fled the scene and is still on the loose. The two victims were sent to the hospital, where they were treated for non-life threatening injuries, Minneapolis Police Department spokesman Scott Seroka tells us.
The eyewitness says he was leaving work when he heard he screams. He "ran toward them, turned the corner around Bruegger's" and saw "a large African American man holding a Caucasian woman in a headlock."
"I thought, I'm not trained to deal with this situation, so I ducked back around the corner, called 911, and directed the paramedics and police there," the witness says.
After the suspect fled, the witness approached the victims. A broken knife blade was on the ground, along with strewn cell phones, the witness says.
"The smaller woman was clutching her arm and there was a lot of blood coming out of it," he adds. "Her friend gave her a shirt [to help stop the bleeding] and it appeared she had some sort of blood smear on her back, but she had actually been stabbed in the back."
The witness says the victim with the more severe arm injury was "conscious, breathing heavily, [and] very alert" after the stabbing.
Asked what he said to the victims while they waited for authorities, the witness says, "We mostly sat in sort of panicked, shocked silenced."
"The first victim with the arm wound, she was sitting up, breathing heavily, trying to apply pressure with clothes to her arm," he says. "Her friend was laying down on the ground, she was conscious as well I believe."
The witness says his recollections are fragmented.
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"I was kind of shocked and distressed by the situation, and you know, memory is a fragile thing," the witness says.
Seroka says the suspect made off with $5. While he couldn't confirm exactly what happened after the suspect demanded money from the women, he says it'd be fair to describe the women as "compliant" with him.
Seroka says the MPD is hopefully surveillance footage will aid their investigation. He says he's not aware of any similar incidents involving a knife-wielding robber in Northeast or elsewhere in Minneapolis.
"Talking with sergeants, it appears this is a very random and unusual incident," Seroka says.
KARE 11 reports the women were walking home from a bar, while the Star Tribune says they're University of Minnesota students. The police report indicates they're roommates, as they have the same campus-area address.
:::: UPDATE ::::
Minneapolis police are now offering a reward for information leading to an arrest.
Here's a statement released by the MPD this afternoon (May 5):
Minneapolis Police Announce Crime Stoppers Award in aggravated robbery incident-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]
May 5, 2014 (MINNEAPOLIS) Minneapolis Police Investigators continue to search for surveillance camera video footage in an attempt to locate and identify the suspect in an aggravated robbery at Hennepin Avenue East and University Avenue Northeast at approximately 12:15 a.m. Officers are also meeting with business owners and neighborhood associations to connect with the community following the crime, which is both an unusual and random incident.
The suspect is described as a "heavy-set, black male." Anyone with information on this case is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or text TIP674 plus your information to 274637 (CRIMES). Additionally, citizens can go to crimestoppersmn.org and click on "Give a Tip." All callers are given a unique identifier, no names are used, and those providing information may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.