Police doubt fatal stabbing in Hastings was gang-related

  • Article by: JIM ADAMS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 27, 2007 - 11:08 PM

The victim and the accused knew each other and were known to police, who said that they have not seen gang activity but that they have had to deal with "gang wannabes."

Hastings police said Monday that they are familiar with the suspect and the victim in Sunday's fatal stabbing and that the killing does not appear gang-related, as some residents have suggested.

The Dakota County attorney's office is expected to make a decision Wednesday morning on any charges. The 16-year-old suspect is being held in the death of Trent Griebling, 16, officials said.

Griebling and two others went to the house of a 16-year-old girl whose boyfriend was visiting and is the suspect in the stabbing. The attack happened about 12:45 a.m. Sunday outside Tilden Kindergarten School, across the street from the girl's house. Her parents, Ron and Brenda Bathrick, said the victim and suspect had at times worn blue and red colors of rival gangs, the Crips and Bloods.

But Police Chief Mike McMenomy said officers don't see much gang activity other than graffiti. "We don't have people wearing colors or things like that," he said. He said some gang wannabe problems have occurred at Hastings High School, where Griebling would have been a junior. The chief said school liaison officers work with the students involved to deal with any trouble.

Police Detective Jim Rgnonti said the suspect and stabbing victim knew each other. He said he hasn't seen gang-related violent crime, but even gang wannabes "can do damage." He said he couldn't comment on whether the stabbing was over a girl or a dispute between two groups. Although the suspect is known to police, Rgnonti said he can't elaborate because the suspect is a juvenile. Police also said they knew the victim before the stabbing, but also couldn't say more because of his age.

Rgnonti said that police aren't looking for any other suspects and don't think group retaliation is a danger.

County Attorney Jim Backstrom said that the county, including Hastings, has no significant gang crime that he has prosecuted, although many communities have youths who are gang wannabes. He recalled only one possible gang crime in Hastings: the April 1997 shooting death of 14-year-old Roger Wakemup, of Minneapolis. Landry Goodwin, 19, of Minneapolis, was convicted of second-degree murder. The complaint said the shooting could have been because of heavy drinking and jealousy at a Hastings house or because a man with Wakemup was believed to be in a rival gang.

Sunday's stabbing was the first homicide in Hastings since the October 2005 shooting deaths of Pete and Patty Niedere by their son, Matt, and his friend at the couple's downtown business.

Jim Adams • 612-673-7658

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