An Edina businessman died after a random late-night assault last month in downtown Minneapolis.
The surveillance video that caught an apparently drunken man beating Tony Gale in a popular stretch of downtown Minneapolis last month started with some casual talk and a handshake.
Gale, 37, chief financial officer of a collectible coin business in Edina, died Thursday. Jonathan Rubio-Segura was charged Friday in his death.
Relatives said Gale was most likely taking a late-night stroll from his hotel to have a smoke when police said he crossed paths March 26 with Rubio-Segura near Hennepin Avenue and N. 5th Street.
They didn't know each other, police said, but the men talked for several minutes, hugged and shook hands goodbye. Then, police say, for reasons they haven't figured out, Rubio-Segura rushed Gale and punched him in the head, knocking him unconscious.
As Gale lay in a pool of blood on the sidewalk, Rubio-Segura again punched him in the head, according to murder charges filed Friday. Rubio-Segura had been held since the incident on assault charges.
Gale's health appeared to be improving several days after the beating, allowing him to speak for brief periods, but relatives said he was in a medically induced coma when he died Thursday. He would have turned 38 on Monday.
"Mr. Gale is as innocent a victim as a victim can be," said Sgt. David Voss of the Minneapolis Police Department's assault unit. "This was truly a random, unprovoked assault."
Police haven't been able to confirm a witness account that Rubio-Segura, 25, became angry after Gale turned down a request for cab fare. Besides the second-degree murder charge, Rubio-Segura is being held in Hennepin County jail on an immigration violation.
Stephanie Gleason, Gale's sister, said the family is in disbelief that an evening that began with her brother having dinner with one of his best friends turned so violent. The two men parted ways with plans to celebrate the friend's birthday the next day.
Gale was staying at a hotel because of work being done on his Minneapolis home. Gleason said she assumed her brother went for a walk outside because he couldn't smoke in the hotel.
He encountered Rubio-Segura at about 3 a.m. After they talked, Rubio-Segura left the camera's view while Gale stood by himself with his hands in his pocket, according to the criminal complaint. A short time later, Rubio-Segura ran toward Gale and punched him in the head, the charges said.
Gale crumpled to the ground and didn't move. Rubio-Segura circled around him and hit him again in the head, according to the complaint. The video showed a man grabbing Rubio-Segura and running away.
A cab driver, security guard and several witnesses pointed which way the men fled. When Rubio-Segura was caught downtown a short time later, he seemed intoxicated and kept saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," the complaint said. Rubio-Segura didn't have any previous arrests for violent crimes, police said.
At New York Mint, the company where Gale was CFO, colleague Joe Cassioppi said Friday that "Tony wouldn't hurt a fly and he never spoke harshly to anybody."
"He was just minding his own business and he gets assaulted. It's senseless," said Cassioppi, vice president of sales.
In 1996 Gale's brother Bill started New York Mint, which Gleason said is the largest collectible coin business in the United States. Tony Gale was enticed back to the Twin Cities from San Francisco three years later to work with his brother, Gleason said. The business employed five people, but grew to 110 after a merger.
Tony Gale worked 80 hours a week, Gleason said. When he wasn't working, he enjoyed fine dining and travel. He was born in Bloomington and had earned college degrees in Japanese and international business.
The homicide was the city's 15th this year. Kris Arneson, police inspector for the downtown precinct, said she felt very bad for the family.
Assaults downtown are down 10 percent compared with the same time last year, and violent crime citywide has dropped significantly, she said.
N. 5th Street between 1st and Hennepin avenues is a focus area for police because of its many bars and restaurants and the light-rail platform, she said. There have been 257 calls for service to the area this year, 193 initiated by officers, Arneson said.
"A random assault is very unusual," she said. "Downtown is still a safe place to visit."
Besides his sister and brother, Gale is survived by his parents Mary and Bill Gale.
They now must plan for a funeral when only two weeks ago "everything was just fine," Gleason said.
"Today, it's completely different," she said.
David Chanen • 612-673-4465