What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Suspects had cased Mall of America Starbucks before beating Mark Andrew

Posted by: Suzanne Ziegler under Politics and government, Public safety Updated: December 27, 2013 - 4:32 PM

The two teenagers accused of beating a Minneapolis mayoral candidate after a cohort stole his iPhone at the Mall of America had cased the Starbucks ahead of time, according to authorities. 

Mark Andrew, also a former Hennepin County commissioner, was beaten on the head with a metal baton after a juvenile male snatched his phone as he sat in Starbucks. 

Andrew received nine stitches at Fairview Southdale Hospital, where an ambulance took him after the attack around 7 p.m. Thursday.

One of the women arrested, Letaija Shapree Cutler-Cain, 18, of Brooklyn Park, was charged with second-degree assault with a deadly weapon. The other woman was not identified because she is 17. The male who stole the phone was not identified. 

In the complaint, police said the male took off with the phone. When Andrew gave chase, the two women confronted him and kept him from leaving the store. The complaint said Cutler-Cain jumped on his back and the younger teen struck him repeatedly on the head with the baton. As Andrew struggled with the women, Cutler-Cain gouged his face with her fingernails, yelling at him: "I'm going to kill you, Let me go or I'm going to kill you!"

Police said Andrew was struck with a metal baton and was bleeding profusely from a large cut on the top of his head and from his mouth. He also had bruises and abrasions on his face.

“I was targeted because the phone was out and I’m 63 years old, and I’m sure they thought that I was easy pickins,” Andrew said by phone Friday morning, while on painkillers and on his way to give statements to the Bloomington Police Department.

The complaint said Cutler-Cain told police that the trio had checked the Starbucks several times that afternoon to determine if it was "sweet." Asked to explain what she meant, she said they were seeing if any customers had items they could steal.  

Andrew placed second to Betsy Hodges in November’s most competitive race for mayor in a generation, when voters chose between 35 candidates in the city’s first major test of ranked choice voting. He continues to work as an environmental marketing consultant.

He said he was working at a table alone at the Starbucks when someone – he thinks it was a man – whisked his phone away and ran out the door. As Andrew ran after the thief, two young women waiting outside the coffee shop tackled him, and one began beating him on the head and face with a club.

Andrew said he jumped back to his feet and physically restrained one attacker while the other continued striking him. They yelled, “We’re going to kill you! We’re going to kill you!”

No one at the packed Starbucks intervened.

“They were too afraid,” Andrew said.

He guessed the police came after about five minutes. Upon their arrival, Andrew said the women told police that he had assaulted them first, but a witness inside the shop confirmed his account. Even after authorities detained the attackers, the women told Andrew they would have him killed.

The hospital treated and released him the same night.

The person who swiped the phone apparently dropped it after seeing the commotion, and a passerby later returned it to Andrew.

“I’m not going to let someone take my phone,” Andrew said. “I’m not going to let that pass. They thought they wouldn’t get chased.”

As Andrew walked back into his south Minneapolis home, he recalled, he lifted his fist in the air and told his adult children, “We won.”

He vowed to stay involved in the case.

"“They’re damaged kids, and maybe they’re too far gone, but I think there’s redemption for everybody," said Andrew. "So we’ll try to find a way for them to get in a place where they can turn their lives around.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the Twins replace Ron Gardenhire?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT