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  Sunday January 25th, 2015    

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'18th safest city' faces string of assaults (09/03/2014)
By Amelia Wedemeyer
A string of violent assaults on unsuspecting victims around the Winona State University (WSU) main campus and in Goodview seem to contradict Winona’s selection as the 18th safest city in Minnesota. While “Safe Choice Security News” lists Winona as a place that “enjoys an impressively low crime rate,” the recent attacks on a variety of victims have put local residents on edge.

On Thursday, August 28, at 5:14 a.m. a 61-year-old male was getting into his truck parked on the 700 block of 37th Avenue in Goodview when an unknown black man opened the driver’s side door of the truck and beat the male victim with a wooden billy club.

“I held my arms up because he came at me right away,” explained the victim, who police requested to remain anonymous. A dome light lit the scene of the attack and the victim said he was able to make out a black male dressed all in black “like a ninja,” wearing black gloves and a stocking cap with his mouth covered. The only facial features showing were the suspect’s eyes and nose. “I just hollered ‘help!’" explained the victim of the attack. A neighbor heard and came out of his house, turned on an exterior light, and the attacker ran away.

The victim said he was hit approximately 10 to 15 times on multiple areas of his body, and used his arms to protect his face. He sustained a broken wrist, a broken bone in his knee, and received injuries to his forearm, which was not broken. Both the victim and Goodview Police believe the attack was an attempted robbery. “It was so sudden,” the victim said of the attack.

The suspect, who is described as a black male possibly in his early 20s, 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a medium build, departed the scene east toward the West End of Winona. Goodview Police Chief Kent Russell said K-9 units were able to track the suspect for a distance and confirmed that he had fled into Winona. “We have no suspects at the time,” Russell said. “[But we do] have a number of items of evidence that are being processed by the [Bureau of Criminal Apprehension].”

Goodview Police are currently asking anyone with information to call them at 452-1500, or call the Winona Area Crime Stoppers at 457-6530. Callers may remain anonymous.

The recent assault in Goodview follows three attacks near the WSU main campus, each involving female victims and alleged male attackers. On the morning of Friday, August 22, the Winona Police Department (WPD) responded to a report of an assault at 1:35 a.m. from a 19-year-old female who alleged that she had been assaulted by an unknown male. According to the report, the female victim told an officer that she was walking on Liberty Street when an unknown black male approached her from behind, grabbed her arm and pointed a gun to her head, telling her that he was going to rape her. The victim then told the officer that the suspect pushed her up against a garage and a motion detector light went on, which scared him away. The victim described her attacker as a black male in his 20s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, 150 pounds, and having a shaved head.

The WPD received another report of an alleged assault at 2:07 a.m., when a 21-year-old female told an officer that she had just been attacked by an adult white male near the area of Eighth and Wilson streets. The female victim told police that she and a friend were walking from the downtown area to a residence on the West End when they were separated. The victim told police that she believed she was in the area of Eighth and Wilson streets when she encountered an adult white male, who subsequently punched her in the face and knocked her to the ground. After she had been knocked to the ground, the victim said that her attacker may have tried to stab her with some type of needle, but eventually fled the area. According to the victim, she might have known the attacker based on the body language he was displaying when he approached her. The suspect was described as a white male between the ages of 18 and 22, approximately 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a medium build and shaggy hair.

The third assault was reported to WSU campus police at 7:21 a.m. from a female WSU student who reported being assaulted at a friend’s residence on the 150 block of East Eighth Street at approximately 6:30 a.m. According to the WSU campus report, the female victim stated that she entered her friend’s residence and was grabbed from behind by an unknown white male; she and her attacker both fell to the floor. The victim described her attacker as a white male, approximately 5 feet 11 inches tall, with shaggy hair, who had the lower portion of his face covered by his T-shirt. He subsequently fled the residence after attacking the victim.

Anyone who might have information regarding any of these assaults is urged to contact the Winona Police Department at 507-457-6492, or WSU Campus Security at 507-457-5555.

Don Walski, WSU director of security, suggests the following safety practices for students and others:

• Always walk with a friend.

• Report suspicious activity immediately to law enforcement.

• Keep doors of your residence locked at all times.

• Be aware of your surroundings.

• Walk in well-lit areas.

• Students should utilize Winona State’s escort service within a four-block radius of campus during evening hours. An escort may be requested by calling 507-457-5555.

One of Minnesota’s safest cities

Winona’s selection as the 18th safest city in Minnesota was generated by comparing crime statistics, including property and violent crimes, from a list of over 300 cities in Minnesota. The rankings were completed by “Safe Choice Security News.” To view the rest of the Minnesota cities that made the list, visit http://www.safechoicesecurity.com/blog/safest-cities-minnesota/.  


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