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Charge: Suspects in Mark Andrew beating had cased MOA Starbucks

  • Article by: Maya Rao
  • Star Tribune
  • December 27, 2013 - 10:54 PM

The runner-up in last month’s Minneapolis mayoral election was beaten, bloodied and threatened with death Thursday night after he chased down a man who stole his iPhone at a Mall of America Starbucks.

Authorities have arrested the two female teenagers accused of attacking Mark Andrew, also a former Hennepin County commissioner, with a metal baton after their young cohort swiped Andrew’s phone off the table where he was sitting alone.

The Bloomington Police Department could not immediately provide statistics on assaults and robberies at Mall of America, but authorities there said such attacks are rare, especially between people who don’t know one another.

Security forces are heightened because of increased holiday crowds, they said.

“I was targeted because the phone was out and I’m 63 years old, and I’m sure they thought that I was easy pickins,” Andrew said by phone Friday morning,

He received nine stitches at Fairview Southdale Hospital, where an ambulance took him after the attack Thursday evening. He was released the same night.

One of the teens arrested, Letaija Shapree Cutler-Cain, 18, of Brooklyn Park, was charged with two counts of first-degree aggravated robbery and one count of second-degree assault. The other female is 17 and was not identified. The young man who took the phone also was not identified.

“People ought to be able to sit and have a cup of coffee without fear of assault,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, a longtime ally of Andrew’s who endorsed him in the mayoral election, in a statement about the attack.

“These two will be charged and prosecuted to the absolute fullest extent of the law,” Freeman added.

Cutler-Cain will make her first court appearance Monday at 1:30 p.m. The deadline to file charges against the 17-year-old has been extended to noon Monday.

Andrew lost Minneapolis’ most competitive race for mayor in a generation to Betsy Hodges, coming in second among 35 candidates in the city’s first major test of ranked-choice voting. He continues to work as an environmental marketing consultant.

Outgoing Council Member Don Samuels, another leading mayoral candidate, also drew attention for confronting men who stole his iPhone in north Minneapolis last year.

The Starbucks where Andrew’s attack took place is on the second floor of the shopping center, between Coach and Kay Jewelers.

The complaint said Cutler-Cain told police that the alleged thieves had checked the Starbucks several times that afternoon to determine if it was “sweet.” Asked to explain what that meant, she said they were seeing if any customers had items they could steal.

A witness told police she saw the trio sitting in the shop when Andrew walked in. The male took off with the phone, and when Andrew gave chase, the two women confronted him outside. The complaint said Cutler-Cain jumped on his back and the younger teen struck him repeatedly on the head with the baton. As Andrew struggled with the women, Cutler-Cain gouged his face with her fingernails, yelling at him: “I’m going to kill you! Let me go or I’m going to kill you!”

Police said Andrew was bleeding profusely from a large cut on the top of his head and from his mouth. He also had bruises and abrasions on his face.

He said that as they beat him outside, no one at the packed Starbucks intervened.

“They were too afraid,” Andrew said.

He guessed the police came after about five minutes. Upon their arrival, Andrew said the women told police that he had assaulted them first, but a witness inside the shop confirmed his account. Even after authorities detained the attackers, the women told Andrew they would have him killed.

The hospital treated and released him the same night.

The man who swiped the phone apparently dropped it after seeing the commotion, and a passerby later returned it to Andrew.

“I’m not going to let someone take my phone,” Andrew said. “I’m not going to let that pass. They thought they wouldn’t get chased.”

Andrew said that as he walked back into his south Minneapolis home, he lifted his fist in the air and told his adult children, “We won.”

He vowed to stay involved in the case.

“They’re damaged kids, and maybe they’re too far gone, but I think there’s redemption for everybody,” Andrew said. “So we’ll try to find a way for them to get in a place where they can turn their lives around.”

Maya Rao • 612-673-4210

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