June 06, 2017 10:23 PM
St. Paul police have four suspects in custody in connection with an alleged early-morning robbery and rape near Raspberry Island.
Police said in a release that officers were dispatched to a parking lot near the island about 2 a.m. Tuesday after a report of a robbery and sexual assault.
Arriving officers found two juvenile males and two women who said four males approached them in the parking lot, including one brandishing a gun. The men demanded the four get to the ground and hand over valuables, the release states.
The women were then forced into a nearby vehicle and sexually assaulted by one or more of the suspects, police said.
The four men then fled on foot, according to the release.
That one of the alleged victims recognized one of the suspects -- and multiple people nearby who were later interviewed offered crucial information – allowed officers to identify the suspects and share with cooperating agencies.
West St. Paul police a short time later notified St. Paul police they had three in custody on an alleged unrelated robbery matching the description of the Raspberry Island suspects. A fourth person was taken into custody about noon Tuesday.
Arrested were three adult males and one juvenile male, and St. Paul police say they believe all four are the Raspberry Island suspects. They were identified as 20-year-old Vershone Jaquay Hodges, 19-year-old Devontre Jordan Vann, 18-year-old Deandray Artez Easley, and an unamed 16-year-old juvenile male.
St. Paul Police Sgt. Mike Ernster said he could not confirm the city has a rise in violent crimes committed by teenaged people, but he did state police are anecdotally seeing more violent crimes involving teens as both victims and suspects.
"Definitely, we he been talking more frequently about juvenile victims and more juveniles who are involved in some violent crimes, yes", said Sgt. Ernster.
Two young women visiting Raspberry Island told KSTP that they see more teens involved in brawls and incidents with weapons more often.
"It's a wannabe thing, because I see kids who are trying to grow up too fast and there are gang bangers around this area and they want to join them and they want to hang with them and be grown, but they are not grown", said Mackenzie Richardson.
Trina Harwell said there is an added problem from social media as young people try to gain a reputation by posting their violence on Facebook and other sites.
"When you put something on Facebook for the violence and everything and people are instantly saying 'record this, record this, record this' and really all they are trying to do is get attention, but it's very malicious," she said.
Sgt. Ernster said there have now been 87 reported sexual assaults in the city this year. That compares to 70 at this time last year.
The reported armed robbery in West St. Paul occurred sometime before 6:25 a.m. near Livingston Avenue and Logan Avenue East, according to West St. Paul police Chief Bud Shaver.
In that incident, three officers – including Shaver – responded to a nearby Super America store on Robert Street. One of them found four males matching the description from the armed robbery, and was holding them at gunpoint at the intersection of Moreland Avenue West and Stryker Avenue.
One suspect fled, and the remaining three were arrested, Shaver said.
Meanwhile, St. Paul police who had been monitoring the situation sent officers, who took the three suspects into custody. Information gleaned from the three led West St. Paul police to a house on the 1200 block of Charlton Street in search of the fourth suspect, who turned himself over to officers without incident while they awaited a search warrant, Shaver said.
The warrant was later executed by St. Paul police. West St. Paul police said they found no weapons on the suspects.
Updated: June 06, 2017 10:23 PM
Created: June 06, 2017 03:55 PM
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