What’s making news in St. Paul, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to richard.meryhew@startribune.com.

Posts about Public safety

Baseball bat attack in St. Paul started with Facebook feud, charges say

Posted by: Chao Xiong Updated: September 8, 2014 - 12:26 PM

A St. Paul woman attacked another woman she had never met before with a baseball bat and slammed the victim's head into the street because of a Facebook feud, according to charges filed Friday in Ramsey County District Court.

Bridget L. Olson, 31, struck the other woman in the face and head about 10 times with a baseball bat, according to the complaint. Olson is charged with one count of second-degree assault for the Sept. 4 incident that occurred at White Bear and Ivy Avenues in St. Paul.

"Olson said the bat was in her van, and officers later recovered a small, wooden baseball bat that had blood stains on it," the complaint said. "At one point, Olson admitted she used both hands to slam [the woman's] head on the street in order to get [the woman] to stop fighting."

According to the complaint: Olson and the other woman got into an argument on Facebook, and the woman suggested to Olson that they meet to resolve the problem. Olson suggested their meeting location. The two women had never met before the Sept. 4 assault.

The complaint does not indicate the nature of the Facebook feud.

The woman drove to the location and saw Olson in the street allegedly holding a small baseball bat. The woman remained in her vehicle and implored Olson to put away the bat so "they could handle this like women," the complaint said.

Instead, authorities allege that Olson reached into the woman's car and struck her in the face and head with the bat four to five times. She then allegedly pulled the woman out of the car.

The woman slapped the bat away, the complaint said, before the two started rolling around on the ground brawling.

"Olson straddled [the woman] and punched her in the face, and after a minute or so, Olson got up and ran towards her baseball bat," the complaint said. "Olson got the bat and struck [the woman] 4-5 times in the head and face as she lay on her back on the street."

Olson eventually fled in her minivan, tailed by the woman, the complaint said. The woman could not reach her cell phone, so she followed Olson and in an attempt to stop Olson, tapped the back of Olson's van with her car.

"I'm calling the police!" Olson screamed at the woman, according to the complaint.

Olson told the 911 operator that the woman came after her, tried to assault her and was pursuing her, the complaint said.

The woman continued to follow Olson until both stopped at the sight of a police squad. The officer noticed that the woman was "bleeding heavily," her face covered in blood, according to the complaint.

Olson allegedly told the officer that the two fought over a Facebook feud, and allegedly admitted to hitting the woman several times in the head with a mini baseball bat in self-defense.

"Olson said she didn't know what she was planning to do [when] the other woman showed up, but she was upset about what the woman was posting on Facebook," the complaint said.

Olson allegedly told the officer that the woman tried opening her van door. Olson allegedly said she pushed the woman away and then picked up her baseball bat and attempted to hit the woman. The woman knocked the bat away, and the two started fighting, Olson allegedly told police.

St. Paul skyways: Sitting still?

Posted by: Nicole Norfleet Updated: September 5, 2014 - 6:16 PM

Geraldine Balter just wanted to take a load off her feet. And that's when her problems began.

One Sunday in April, the 69-year-old woman was walking in the St. Paul skyway after shopping at the downtown Walgreens when she pulled a muscle in her leg and decided to stop and rest at a dining area in the Town Square building. A security guard approached her after she was there for a few minutes with her backpack and warned her that if she didn't leave in five minutes, the police were going to be called.

A YouTube video posted last week of Chris Lollie, who is black, being arrested in the skyway by police after he was told that he needed to leave a seating area designated for tenants only in the First National Bank Building has sparked renewed debate about public use of the downtown pedestrian routes and how the law should be enforced. The St. Paul city attorney has said that Lollie was in a public area when he was confronted in January.

When a security guard approached her, Balter, who is white, said she was also angry at how she was treated. There was a sign saying that the food court in that area was closed, but she hadn't interpreted that to mean she couldn't sit in a chair in that area. She decided not to fight it, Balter said Friday.

There's a problem with a lack of public seating in the St. Paul skyway, said Balter, who is a member of the Skyway Governance Advisory Committee of the downtown CapitolRiver Council.

"There's long distances where there's no place to sit and we have lots of seniors in the downtown area," she said.

Balter, who also lives in downtown, said she started a project in June where she walked through the whole skyway (some of the photos she took are shown above) and asked all the security guards she met what their policy was about people sitting in areas of their building. She said she was shocked to learn that most of the guards she spoke with were told by their bosses not to let members of the public sit there.

"I was surprised," she said. "To me, if you see a chair I don't see why you can't sit down."

At First National, she said she was told by the security that only tenants could sit in that seating area. However, she has sat there before and no one said anything to her.

Balter said she was going to try to personally call the different building managers and owners and see if they will add public seating in their buildings.

Ramsey County releases updated wanted poster for Ty Hoffman

Posted by: Nicole Norfleet Updated: September 5, 2014 - 4:32 PM

Authorities have released a new wanted poster for Lyle Marvin “Ty” Hoffman, who is wanted in connection to the murder of Kelly Phillips.

Hoffman allegedly shot and killed Phillips, his former boyfriend and business partner, in a gas station parking lot in Arden Hills on August 11. Hoffman, 44, has been charged with one count of intentional second-degree murder in Ramsey County District Court in the death of Phillips, 48, an attorney and Boston Scientific vice president.

According to the poster released by the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, Hoffman has been sighted several times in the Twin Cities area. He is suspected of robbing a bank in Blaine, Minn., on Aug. 31. During the robbery, a dye pack was included with the money taken from the bank causing the money to be permanently stained with a bright red dye. A new photo on the poster reportedly shows Hoffman on Sept. 1 at a big box retailer.

This week, authorities combed through buildings and brush from Blaine to the Mystic Lake Casino area in the south metro, tracking reports that Hoffman had been spotted.

Hoffman has previously traveled extensively within the Unites States, Canada, and Mexico and has mentioned visiting Belize. He is known to gamble and enjoys playing blackjack in Las Vegas and also local casinos, according to the poster. He is known to gravitate to gay communities in places he visits.

A reward of up to $25,000 is being offered for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of Hoffman. Hoffman is considered armed and dangerous so authorities are warning residents that if he is seen, to avoid contact with him and call 911. Tips can also be reported to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Arrest warrant issued for former St. Paul principal now with Roseville

Posted by: Chao Xiong Updated: August 30, 2014 - 8:33 AM

Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for a Roseville Area Schools principal charged with failing to report the alleged sexual misconduct of a St. Paul Schools custodian when she worked for St. Paul.

Beth A. Behnke, 48, was charged on July 14 in Ramsey County District Court via summons, and ordered on Aug. 13 to turn herself into the Ramsey County jail for booking within 14 days. In cases such as Behnke's, defendants are photographed, booked into the county jail and then released the same day on their own recognizance.

Defendants are not kept in custody overnight in such cases.

The arrest warrant issued Thursday said Behnke failed to turn herself in by the deadline. Her attorney, Peter Wold, said Saturday that Behnke turned herself in on Monday, but the computer system was down and did not register it. He said he tried to reach authorities late Friday but was unable to.

Behnke is charged with one count of failing to report the maltreatment of a minor for not calling authorities about Walter J. Happel while she was principal at Linwood Monroe Arts Plus School in St. Paul during the 2011-2012 school year.

Behnke is currently principal at Falcon Heights Elementary School with Roseville Area Schools.

Craig A. Guidry, 52, was assistant principal at Linwood Monroe under Behnke, and faces the same charge involving Walter Happel. Jail records show that Guidry turned himself into authorities on Monday.

Guidry is currently assistant principal at Jackson Elementary School in St. Paul.

Wold represents both Behnke and Guidry.

Guidry and Behnke allegedly knew that longtime St. Paul custodian Walter Happel had a history of misconduct with young boys, including following one boy into the bathroom and exposing his genitals to the student. But they allegedly failed to report a 2012 incident in which Happel smacked another boy's buttocks, according to charges filed against them.

Minnesota law requires people such as educators and clergy, among others, to report suspected physical or sexual abuse within 24 hours of learning about the allegation.

Happel resigned from the district this year when an 11-year-old boy told school officials in February that the custodian peeked at him while he was using a bathroom stall. That investigation led authorities to charge Happel in a total of eight cases, six of them involving students at Linwood Monroe.

Charges allege that Happel peeked at students in the bathroom, spoke suggestively to students and pressed his penis onto one boy's buttocks, among other allegations. Two cases against Happel allege that he raped a family friend and a relative more than 30 years ago. 

Happel's cases are pending.

Family and friends of man assaulted in St. Paul give more details

Posted by: Nicole Norfleet Updated: August 26, 2014 - 6:58 PM

Bob Stach is looking for answers.

His cousin, Nicholas J. Keilen, 34, died over the weekend after he was beaten at a St. Paul pizza place in June, and Stach says he wants to see more progress on the case and the pizza joint closed.

"What I don't want to see happen is it just get forgotten," Stach said.

On Monday, St. Paul police announced they were investigating Keilen's death. Keilen was assaulted sometime between 10 p.m. June 5 and 1 a.m. June 6 in the 900 block of Arcade Street, according to a police news release. Keilen’s family notified police Monday that he had died.

Stach said he was told by other family members that the assault took place at Checkerboard Pizza located on the corner of Arcade Street and E. Jenks Avenue in St. Paul. On the night he was beaten, Keilen reportedly went home to his parents and his father suggested that he go to the hospital, but Keilen didn't go, Stach said. Whoever beat him up told him that if he went to the authorities, they would kill him, Stach said. Keilen went to bed and eventually ended up slipping into a coma, Stach said.

St. Paul police spokesman Howie Padilla didn't share any additional information about the case Tuesday.

Jake Patrin used to skateboard with Keilen when they both attended Harding High School when they were younger, he said.

Patrin described Keilen as a "relaxed guy" who liked hanging out with friends and joked around a lot. Keilen worked with his father finishing and installing hardwood floors, Patrin said.

"It was unexpected for sure," Patrin said, about Keilen's death.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT