Would a Minnesotan punch a Russian ballerina?

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 2, 2009 - 5:54 AM

A Plymouth man allegedly assaulted members of the Russian National Ballet Theater at the Doubletree Guest Suites in downtown Minneapolis.

Minnesota Nice was apparently on vacation early Sunday when a Plymouth man allegedly assaulted members of the Russian National Ballet Theater at the Doubletree Guest Suites in downtown Minneapolis.

The 28-year-old man is accused of launching verbal and physical attacks that targeted not only Russians, but blacks and gay people. Five people were hurt, according to a police report.

When a group of about 20 people, including dancers with the Russian troupe, entered the Doubletree, at 1101 Lasalle Av., at 2:10 a.m., the man made statements that "led them to believe he was upset because they were speaking Russian and not English," said police spokesman Sgt. William Palmer.

The man threw punches and slapped people, injuring two men and a ballerina from the troupe, in town to perform "Sleeping Beauty" at Northrop Auditorium.

He also hit a black security guard. "He made some racially based statements there as well," Palmer said.

The Plymouth man was accompanied by a 27-year-old Loretto man. Both were arrested. While both were in the back of a squad car, "homophobic and racially based remarks" were made, Palmer said. Both men appeared intoxicated, he said.

None of the victims sought medical care, according to the police report, which called the incident a probable-cause "bias-related fourth-degree assault."

It all began when the suspects, with another man and two women, climbed into Matthew Loegering's limo at a red light. Loegering was on his way to pick up a customer, but the interlopers refused to get out.

"All of a sudden, on the way [to the hotel], the guy hits me on the neck," Loegering said. "He just starts spazzing out."

Loegering, who said the Plymouth man was the one who hit him, dropped off the two men at the hotel and their companions at a parking ramp. When he walked back to the hotel to try to recoup the $15 the men owed him, he saw the tail end of the assault. "One of the [Russian] guys had a big bruise," he said. "The girl, she had a bump on her head."

A representative with the Russian troupe said Sunday the dancers were fine and en route to a new engagement.

Chao Xiong • 612-673-4391

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