MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Police arrested 20 people and have charged 18 of them in connection with a string of robberies and severe beatings on random targets in Minneapolis.
Authorities say the suspects ranged in age from 15 to 27-years-old.
The robberies became more frequent beginning in August, where large groups of people were targeting random individuals and robbing them of possessions like their wallets and cellphones.
In just three weeks, authorities had been alerted to 48 separate incidents, with 23 going down in just one week’s time.
Police say that the attacks most frequently occurred between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. and that the groups would target “vulnerable” individuals, usually alone, sometimes intoxicated.
CBS 4 Minnesota reported that from January 1 to August 26 in 2018, police said there were 156 robberies downtown. During that same span in 2019 there were 240 — an increase of 53.8%.
The arrests came quickly after a series of videos showing mob-style attacks in downtown Minneapolis went viral.
Police told Fox News that it sparked an “incredible” investigation. And that case led to the arrest of 20 people in connection with the videos, 18 of whom now face assault and robbery charges, among others.
In one of the videos, you can see a mob pummeling a man just outside of the Minneapolis Twins’ stadium. The suspect was just sitting next to them when someone appears to try and take his phone. He jumps up, is hit in the face, and then chased down by his attackers.
In the video you can see the attackers run to pick up speed and jump on the victim. Then they ride a bike over him, strip him of his pants and beat him with a belt, even going so far as to throw flower pots at him. In the clip, you can see that he tries to defend himself but is completely outnumbered.
Another video shows two young men being attacked, getting punched in the face while trying to fight back. One is knocked out cold.
A third video shows a young man surrounded by a mob and beaten unconscious… then robbed while he’s on the ground.
“Many of these juveniles that are affected by this are part of just coming out of incarceration and they don’t have any hope at home, there’s nothing there, and so they come downtown where there’s a little bit of everything and they’re waiting on somebody to prey on,” said V.J. Smith, founder of MAD DADS.
The videos all came out as Minneapolis struggles to deal with a massive shortage of police officers. It’s resulted in the chief of police, Medaria Arradondo, requesting 400 additional officers over the next few years to make up for the shortage.
But members of Minneapolis’ City Council don’t want the money to go towards more cops and have instead argued it should go towards other law enforcement and safety programs.
The city’s mayor, Jacob Frey, is on board with adding 14 additional officers to the force – and police say he’s been supportive of both the department and the new policing strategies in the city’s downtown.
Want to know how bad that shortage is?
Last year, the department was unable to immediately send a police car to 6,776 priority one emergencies.
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Among those calls were shots fired, stabbings and sexual assaults.
According to police, priority one calls involve “an imminent threat to personal safety, or the loss or damage to property exists.”
It gets worse. There’s what’s called “priority zero” calls – of which police were unable to respond to seven of them.
They included a baby not breathing and a fellow officer facing imminent danger. Those calls, according to police, “include those situations where a known crisis exists that threatens the life of an individual. This is the highest possible priority and the fastest possible response is desired. The MECC objective is to have squads en route to the call within 30 seconds of receipt by the dispatcher.”
“To have to look someone in the eye and tell them that we were unable to get there because we do not have enough resources – it’s unacceptable,” Andy Skoogman, the president of Minnesota Police Chiefs Association, told Fox News.
Alondra Cano is the chair of the city’s safety committee. Cano said the city council acknowledges there is a crisis and promises it’s investing and diversifying its force to better represent the community.
“I do appreciate that the mayor has put forward an investment strategy in our department because we can’t walk around with the same broken department since the 1950s,” Cano told Fox News. “We’re thankful that the information is out in the open. We would rather have a truthful conversation than pretend like this isn’t happening.”