Robberies that netted a backpack and a satchel with a cellphone nearly cost two men their lives in March.
During separate midnight incidents near 56th Street and Xerxes Avenue S. in Edina, the men were jumped by two boys, ages 16 and 13, demanding their belongings. Although neither man resisted, each was beaten, stabbed and left bleeding with life-threatening injuries, authorities said Tuesday.
The teens and an 18-year-old were caught March 30 after they robbed and threatened to injure a group of young people in a parking lot at Southdale Center in Edina, police said. When Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced charges in the case Tuesday, he said the violent spree almost certainly would have continued had the suspects not been arrested.
Reported robberies have increased nearly 8 percent citywide in Minneapolis in 2014 compared with this time last year. Despite the robberies highlighted Tuesday, the number of robberies in the Fifth Precinct, which includes the city's southwest neighborhoods, has gone down by 30 percent. They went up in some other precincts, including the Third, which includes a swath of south Minneapolis.
In the two March incidents, Antonio Timberlake, 16, and a 13-year-old boy, both of Minneapolis, were charged with three felony counts of first-degree aggravated robbery.
Their first victim, authorities say, was a 33-year-old Edina man who'd just gotten off a Metro Transit bus around midnight March 16 at 56th and Xerxes in Edina. The teens followed him off the bus and took his satchel, which held a pocket knife that had belonged to his grandfather and a cellphone, the charges said. He was hit on the head and stabbed in an artery in his neck, nearly killing him, Freeman said. He was able to stumble to his mother's house for help.
The second robbery happened about midnight on March 26 and targeted a 53-year-old man who had just climbed off a Metro Transit bus at 58th Street and Xerxes in Minneapolis. The teens ran up and tripped the man, demanding money, the charges said. When he got to his feet, they tackled him, punched and kicked him in the face and stabbed him in the ribs. At that point, he let them take his backpack, the charges said.
He was rushed to the hospital, where doctors found a punctured lung. They told him he could have died if he had waited any longer for treatment.
The final robbery took place March 30 at a parking lot at Southdale Center in Edina. The two teens and 18-year-old Navarr Ross confronted three young people. The 13-year-old tried to grab a cellphone from one of them.
When one young victim tried to intervene, Timberlake stopped him and took his backpack, the charges said.
Ross pulled out a baton and threatened to break one of the victim's legs if he didn't turn over his wallet and cellphone. Ross, Timberlake and the 13-year-old fled, but they were spotted by police and arrested.
Freeman said he wanted to assure the public that they should feel safe riding Metro Transit buses. The suspects in the incidents were identified by cameras on the buses.
Freeman said the system will try to help the 13-year-old by removing him from the violence in his environment that may have pushed him into the robberies. He said his office wants Timberlake to be tried as an adult.