A pair of violent and random group robberies in downtown Minneapolis last month resulted in charges Monday against nearly 20 people, several of them as young as 15.
The incidents were part of a robbery spree that targeted "easy prey," people who were intoxicated, distracted and alone, police said. In one of the attacks, caught on surveillance video near Target Field, the suspects kicked and punched the victim, ran over him with a bicycle and hit him with planting pots.
Eighteen people, ranging in age from 15 to 27 years old, were charged with various counts of robbery in connection with the two separate incidents. Only one person, Adrian Cooper, 25, of Brooklyn Center, was charged in both of the crimes.
All of the adults and juveniles were charged with a sole count or combination of attempted first-degree robbery, first-degree robbery, aiding and abetting first-degree robbery and third-degree riot. All but the riot charges are felonies.
According to criminal complaints and juvenile petitions, the first incident occurred during daylight on the morning of Aug. 3. Minneapolis police received surveillance video of an attempted robbery outside of Target Field. The video showed about a dozen people trying to take a man's cellphone and viciously beating him and kicking him as they also ripped off his shoes and pants as they went through his pockets.
By the end, the victim was lying on the ground where he was jumped on, hit with the planting pots and run over by the bike. The victim and the suspects were gone before police arrived.
Over the next three weeks, police worked to identify the assailants and, by the end of August, they had questioned, and in many cases, received partial confessions from the defendants, the complaint states.
Earlier this month, police also were able to identify the victim of the assault and robbery and speak to him.
The second incident occurred in the early morning of Aug. 17 near Fifth Street and Hennepin Avenue. According to the complaint, the victim told police he was with friends in a downtown bar. After he left, he was standing on the corner using his phone when a group surrounded him and tried to take his wallet.
The assailants kicked and punched him until he was unconscious, and he later was diagnosed with a concussion. Bystanders came to his assistance. The defendants stole his iPhone, his wallet, keys and $100 in cash. He was later notified by his bank that one of the suspects used his debit card to withdraw $220 from an ATM, the complaint states. Again, surveillance footage helped to identify 10 suspects.
Cooper acknowledged to police that "he got his licks in" and hit the victim because he called him a bitch.
In total, four of the suspects in the two robberies were 15 years old, and their names and charges are not public. In each of the robberies, a suspect was arrested but not charged.
The phones were sold at automated kiosks for quick cash, according to police.
Besides Cooper, the people charged in the two incidents were Antonio Morrow, 21, Kareem Shavers, 27, Ade Davis, 20, Cornell Porter, 22, Vincent Nelson, 24, Romez Brewer, 17, Dashawn Sanders, 17, Alexis Dillard-Grayer, 25, Jamar Robinson, 20, and Boris Lusmbo, 20. Eighteen people were charged, but complaints for the remaining adult suspects were not available on the county website.
Robberies in downtown Minneapolis jumped by more than 50% this year as groups of mostly teenage boys or young men targeted and beat victims for their cellphones and wallets.
Police said 240 robberies were reported in Minneapolis this year as of Aug. 26, up from 156 the same time last year. Twenty-three robberies took place in a single week at the end of August alone.
David Chanen • 612-673-4465