Ex-transit reporter mugged at light-rail stop

  • Article by: SARAH LEMAGIE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 23, 2009 - 11:03 AM

Chuck Laszewski and a friend were attacked at the Lake Street stop as they bought tickets to head downtown.

When Chuck Laszewski and his 75-year-old neighbor set out to watch the Minnesota Twins play on Sunday afternoon, they were looking forward to great seats and a nice Father's Day at the ball game.

They made it as far as the light-rail station.

Laszewski and his neighbor, Bobby Thomas, were fumbling with the ticket vending machine at the Lake Street stop on Hiawatha Avenue when they were blindsided by muggers just after a train left the platform around 12:45 p.m.

The attackers punched the men in the face, then chased them down the platform when they fought back and tried to run away. The muggers, whom Laszewski described as two men between the ages of 18 and 22, knocked down Thomas and took his wallet.

"He actually took some tougher shots than I did," said Laszewski, 52.

"It's really unconscionable what happened to him."

Thomas was badly bruised and needed stitches in his mouth, while Laszewski made it home to Falcon Heights with a black eye.

No suspects were in custody Monday evening, but Metro Transit police are reviewing footage from security cameras as part of their investigation, said Metro Transit spokesman Bob Gibbons.

Attacks such as Sunday's are fairly uncommon, he said. "The platforms are not a very smart place to engage in criminal activity, because of the camera system and the emergency telephones."

Laszewski, who wrote about transportation for the Pioneer Press before switching to a job at a nonprofit group that advocates for public transit, said Sunday was the first time he had tried to buy light-rail tickets. On Monday, he laughed ruefully about the irony. "The minute I go use transit, I get popped."

But that won't stop him from boarding light rail again, he added. "We need it, and I'll continue to ride it."

Sarah Lemagie • 952-882-9016

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