The geographic reach of the serial "St. Paul Slapper" has extended into the suburbs, where authorities say a suspect is charged with entering a thrift store and inexplicably attacking a customer with punches but missing with a swing of a metal pipe.
Justin K. Kaneakua, 38, of Minneapolis, was charged last week in Anoka County District Court with second- and third-degree assault in connection with an attack on Jan. 7 inside the Savers in the 4800 block of Central Avenue NE.
Kaneakua remains jailed in lieu of $40,000 bail ahead of a Feb. 11 hearing.
Kaneakua was dubbed the "St. Paul Slapper" after being accused of a rash of random, profanity-punctuated assaults over the past two months in the capital city. No charges have been filed in any of the other incidents.
The suspect is linked to five incidents in St. Paul from Dec. 12 to Jan. 10, according to police, adding that they all occurred in the middle of the day.
"It was just bizarre behavior," police spokesman Steve Linders said last week. "It's unclear what his motive was, but he never attempted to steal vehicles."
Kaneakua was arrested about 11:50 a.m. on Jan. 20 in Minneapolis after police were called to a suspicious vehicle and saw Kaneakua exit a stolen vehicle.
However, Kaneakua was released from jail on Jan. 23 pending further investigation and without being charged in Hennepin County, only to be arrested again that same day while driving, according to the charges in Anoka County.
According to the charges, police records and emergency dispatch audio stemming from the Columbia Heights case:
A Savers employee said Kaneakua came in late in the morning and mumbled something to her. When she asked what he said, Kaneakua started "calling her cuss words," police records show. A customer, a 61-year-old Brooklyn Park man who was there making a donation, intervened, prompting Kaneakua to grab the man's cellphone as he tried calling 911.
The customer started running, according to the employee's account, and Kaneakua pursued and punched the man four or five times.
Kaneakua reportedly chased after the man in the parking lot and tried to hit him with a foot-long metal pipe, but he slipped on the ice and fell. The victim suffered a broken tooth, a chipped tooth and a bloodied mouth that required five stitches.
The suspect got in the vehicle and "came towards the building" as if he intended to hit it with his car, the employee told police.
Instead, Kaneakua drove off, giving the employee an opportunity to take down his license plate number.
Earlier that day, Kaneakua also was suspected of getting in a crash in Coon Rapids and leaving the scene, dispatch audio revealed.
In St. Paul on Dec. 12, Kaneakua allegedly drove by in a pickup truck while wearing a blue bandanna over his mouth, approached a man getting in a car and struck the victim below the eye with what appeared to be a wrench. About 15 minutes later, he allegedly assaulted a woman with a Gatorade bottle.
On Jan. 7, the same day as the Columbia Heights incident, he allegedly assaulted a male victim at St. Clair Avenue and Amherst Street in St. Paul. Also that same day, according to police, he is accused of assaulting a male victim and damaging another man's car.
And in another incident on Jan. 10, a man told St. Paul police that the suspect threatened him with a metal pipe at the end of an alley near his home.
Court records show Kaneakua has a history of convictions in Minnesota from 1999 to 2017 that include aggravated first-degree robbery, terroristic threats, disorderly conduct, trespassing and theft.