St. Paul police are investigating a string of armed robberies Sunday where young assailants snatched purses and wallets at gunpoint.
Officers were called to at least five separate street robberies throughout the city over a three-hour stretch Sunday evening, each following a consistent pattern.
“They were all similar circumstances,” said police spokesman Sgt. Mike Ernster, who said authorities are trying to determine whether they’re connected. “They all share similar suspect descriptions.”
The crime spree began around 6:30 p.m. on the Greater East Side, when a man approached his apartment building on the 1100 block of Barclay Street. Two men waiting outside the door stuck a handgun in his back and demanded all of his belongings, police said.
The thieves made off with his cash and car keys, but the victim successfully chased them away before they could take his vehicle.
A half-hour later in the North End, a woman exiting her vehicle on the 1500 block of Timberlake Road was suddenly approached from behind by men pointing a firearm. They snatched her purse and fled on foot, Ernster said.
Just after 7:10 p.m., a 23-year-old woman and her mother noticed a vehicle passing by with no headlights on in Frogtown. They began walking to a nearby address when three men surrounded them and stuck a black handgun in their face, demanding her purse and PIN numbers for her credit cards. The suspects again fled the area.
Minutes later, two sisters in their late 60s reported a robbery as they crossed Mackubin Street in the city’s Summit-University neighborhood. One woman was pushed down and stripped of her purse. A second suspect attempted to steal the other woman’s bag, but fled after slipping on some ice. Both men took off in a small SUV, thought to be a Toyota RAV4.
The final incident happened around 9:10 p.m. on 1300 block of Western Avenue. A married couple had just arrived home when they approached the building’s entryway. He heard his wife scream as a man pointed a gun at them. She handed over her purse and the suspects fled on foot.
The robberies bear a striking resemblance to a series of strong-arm incidents in December, including one where unknown assailants snatched a woman’s purse outside the Hmong Village Shopping Center and dragged her from the car. However, authorities say it’s unclear whether they’re connected.
Anyone with information is asked to call the homicide and robbery unit at (651) 266-5650.