St. Paul library stabbing: Mistaken identity

  • Article by: ANTHONY LONETREE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 31, 2008 - 11:00 PM

They allegedly asked the victim what gang she represented, then later assaulted her outside a library.

A dispute that ended in a woman being stabbed outside a St. Paul library Wednesday allegedly began with her three assailants asking which gang she belonged to, according to first-degree assault charges filed against the men Friday.

After she denied being a gang member, the men cursed the woman and drove off. But they would return, the charges state, eventually attacking her after a librarian asked the woman and the men to leave the building on the city's East Side.

It wasn't until after the men struck her and ran off that the woman realized she'd been stabbed -- 13 times, according to complaints filed in Ramsey County District Court.

The 19-year-old victim, who has asked police not to identify her publicly, was expected to be released Friday night from Regions Hospital, police spokesman Pete Crum said. She suffered a punctured right lung, the charges state. She said she didn't know her attackers.

Two brothers -- Meng Vang, 19, and Kou Vang, 18, of St. Paul -- have been arrested and charged, and a 19-year-old accomplice still was being sought by police as of late Friday afternoon, after he was charged, too.

The arrests were a result of investigations by the police gang unit and the Metro Gang Strike Force, Crum said. But he declined to say Friday whether the suspects were gang members.

According to the charges, the woman was walking to the Arlington Hills Library, 1105 Greenbrier St., when she was confronted by three men, who asked her what gang she represented. After she denied any gang involvement, and the men drove off, she went inside the library and was reading a book when the suspects reappeared and confronted her again.

"They swore at her and she swore back and the librarian asked all of them to leave," the complaints said.

Outside, the woman was attacked and stabbed, and police were called about 4:15 p.m.

When the suspects ran, they left their vehicle behind, providing investigators with leads that would result in the arrests of Meng Vang on Thursday night and of Kou Vang on Friday.

In separate interviews with police, Meng Vang and Kou Vang both acknowledged being in a fight, with Meng Vang uncertain as to whether the victim was a man or a woman, and Kou Vang saying he thought it had been a man who was "disrespecting them," the charges state.

Both brothers denied having a weapon. But at the time of his arrest, police said, Kou Vang had a silver lighter with attached switchblade knife.

Whether that was the weapon used to stab the victim "still is under investigation," Crum said.

Anthony Lonetree • 651-298-1545

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