Authorities: Suspect in light rail assault sets himself on fire while in squad

May 13, 2019 10:35 PM

Metro Transit reports two officers have been placed on standard administrative leave after a suspect in an ongoing investigation harmed himself in the back of their squad car Sunday morning at the U.S. Bank Stadium light rail station.

Mustafa Nouriye, 31, of St. Cloud, is in a Minneapolis hospital being treated for self-inflicted burn wounds.


The incident happened at about 11 a.m. Sunday along the the light rail station at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Witnesses told investigators Nouriye randomly walked up and confronted a woman who was waiting to catch a train. Witnesses said they struggled over her purse, Nouriye yelled she was his wife, but the 34-year-old told police she'd never seen the man before in her life.

Several bystanders took action; two tried to break up the attack while another person, Anton Reichl, called 911 for help.

"She was fully on the ground and he was on top of her and the two other men were trying to get him away from her," said Reichl. Reichl described Nouriye as wearing a green and orange shirt and only have one arm. 

Two Metro Transit officers arrived and took Nouriye aside for questioning, eventually taking him into custody. They put Nouriye in the backseat of a squad car. 

According to a report by the Minneapolis Fire Department, Nouriye produced a lighter and turned it on himself, torching the highly flammable cotton fabric on his body. He "suffered burned skin throughout his torso," according to officials.

The police report indicates the two Metro Transit officers pulled Nouriye from the flames, laid him on the ground and called for an ambulance. One of the officers suffered minor burns to a hand while retrieving Nouriye. Both Nouriye and the officer went to the hospital to be treated. Nouriye's injuries were described as critical in reports, with the officer's described as minor.

Because of the circumstances involving a law enforcement agency, an investigation is being handled by an outside agency, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Both officers are on paid leave, which is standard policy after "critical incidents."

We asked Metro Transit if the suspect had been searched or restrained somehow before getting in the back seat and are still waiting for answers.

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Beth McDonough/KSTP

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