A University of Minnesota student who used her own shirt as a tourniquet is being credited with helping save her roommate’s life after they were stabbed during a random street robbery early Monday near a major northeast Minneapolis intersection.

In the third recent attack on U students by armed assailants on or near campus, police said the mask-wearing man stabbed the women at 12:20 a.m. near University Avenue and E. Hennepin Avenue while the two, both 21, walked from a downtown bar to their home a few blocks from the crime scene.

One of the students is from a small town north of Chicago, while the other is from West St. Paul, according to the university.

Police Sgt. Jesse Garcia is crediting the West St. Paul woman and a police officer with saving the Illinois woman’s life after the knife cut the main artery located in the crook of the arm.

“We all know, someone gets a cut in the brachial artery and they could bleed out right there,” Garcia said, “and this was great work by her friend and the officer who showed up.”

The women, who share a townhouse about a mile northwest of the campus, were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center.

A hospital spokeswoman said they were in satisfactory condition.

The suspect, still at large, came away with $5, said police spokesman Scott Seroka.

Garcia said the man at first walked by the women and then soon came back, wearing a mask, and put a knife to the neck of the Twin Cities woman.

After taking the money, he started to back away with the woman while still holding her at knife point.

She struggled to get away, and that’s when he stabbed her in the back.

He then cut the Illinois woman’s arm and fled, apparently spooked by a witness who was shouting, the sergeant said.

The less seriously injured woman used her shirt to apply pressure to her roommate’s wound before police arrived with a tourniquet kit and continued to hold back the bleeding, Garcia said.

A 24-year-old man, identified by police as a witness, said he was waiting for a bus nearby and heard someone screaming.

He looked around the corner and saw a man holding one of the women in a headlock.

The witness said he called 911 to report where the attack was unfolding.

“The more slender woman was bleeding pretty good,” said the witness, who asked that his identity be withheld out of concern for his safety. “The lady who was stabbed in the back removed her shirt to try to apply pressure to her friend’s gushing arm wound and met with some success.”

Police said they do not yet have a detailed description of the assailant.

The new string of violence breaks what had been a two-month lull in serious crimes targeting university students.

Shortly before midnight on April 25, a man rushed out from some bushes brandishing a semiautomatic handgun along University Avenue SE., just south of Williams Arena.

A student, who turned 21 that day, was robbed of her cellphone, but she was otherwise unharmed. That suspect remains at large.

About 9 p.m. on April 22, three suspects robbed a 21-year-old man at gunpoint and hit him in the back of the head on the U’s West Bank, just east of the University of Minnesota Hospital.

The trio took off with the student’s backpack.

No arrests have been announced in any of the three incidents.

A rash of sexual assaults and sometimes violent robberies starting last fall and continuing well into February set the campus on edge and prompted university officials to increase security, adding brighter lights, more police and new security cameras.

Most of the crime, however, targeted students walking off campus at night.


Staff writer Emma Nelson contributed to this report.