Would-be robbers get cut ... and run

  • Article by: JIM ADAMS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 10, 2006 - 12:21 AM

Although they were outnumbered, two men fought off attackers in a south Minneapolis apartment robbery with a souvenir sword. At least one attacker left some fingers behind.

Four men who broke into a south Minneapolis apartment early Wednesday had their hands full when two friends inside wrestled for the intruders' weapons and left at least one suspect minus fingers.

Police were called to the apartment building in the 3100 block of Lyndale Avenue S. about 3:30 a.m. on a report of a stabbing. Four men, one with a handgun, forced their way into a third-floor apartment, apparently to burglarize it, police said.

But one of the men in the apartment won the fight for a Samurai sword that a burglar had taken from a bedroom.

"The adrenaline was going," said John, one of the men inside the apartment, who asked that his last name not be published out of concern for his safety. "I don't know what I hit."

John inflicted serious injuries on his attackers, said Sgt. Medaria Arradondo, who added that at least one of the burglars lost fingers. The two men in the apartment didn't know their attackers and were treated for less serious wounds.

"It's a rare occurrence when the suspects become the ones to suffer severe injuries," Arradondo said.

He said three of the suspects showed up later Wednesday morning at Hennepin County Medical Center, including a 17-year-old boy who had minor injuries and was placed in juvenile custody. Two men, 18 and 29, were hospitalized and under police guard. A fourth suspect was at large.

John, the 36-year-old sword-wielding victim, stood on the blood-spattered sidewalk outside the apartment building Wednesday and recounted the attack, his left hand bandaged and his head sporting many stitches:

John was visiting the apartment of his friend when someone knocked about 3 a.m. He opened the door, and a man pushed his way in and another put a gun put to his temple.

"I heard the hammer cock," John said.

He and his friend were ordered face down on the floor, while the gunman guarded them. "They were so brazen and belligerent that they fired us up," John said

He said that his friend, who is 26, lean and 6 feet tall, stood and told the burglars to take what they wanted and leave. The bigger gunman swung his handgun at John's friend, who tried to take the gun away.

"As soon as I heard them start wrestling, I went for the sword," John said. He said a burglar near him had picked up the sword, bought by the friend in Germany as a souvenir. The curved steel sword was almost 3 feet long and sheathed in a black wooden scabbard. John said it broke when the burglar smashed it on his head.

"I grabbed the handle, and he picked me up. I pulled out the sword as he dumped me on my head on the floor," John said. "He was bigger than I was, and I started chopping at his legs. I heard another guy coming from behind, and I pulled the [first attacker] in front of me and poked at the other guy with the sword."

The two ran toward the door and got tangled with the other burglars fighting the friend, John said. "I took one wild swing to defend my friend," John said.

The friend was afraid to let go of the gun because the burglar might shoot him, so he kept struggling for it into the hall stairs, John said. Two of the burglars ran around the scuffle and downstairs, and John took another whack at the two fighting his friend.

Some of the burglars fled downstairs past Matt Telfair, who left his second-floor apartment to see what was going on.

"I saw one guy coming downstairs with what looked like a pistol. He was totally covered in blood. Then another guy came down and helped the first guy go faster," said Telfair, 25. "Another guy came after those guys with a Ninja sword in his hand and another guy behind him. They said, 'Call the police. These guys tried to rob us.' " The two friends "were in fear of their lives," Arradondo said. "The two men felt they needed to take action, and they did. ... Fortunately, the victims were not badly hurt."

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