Young man sustains severe brain injury during attack


Raymond Widstrand

Raymond Widstrand's immediate family members Linda, Peter and Alice Widstrand met with the press on Friday, August 9 to describe the life and personality of the 26-year-old. (Patrick Larkin/Review)

Issac Maiden

Teen charged in the incident
 

One young man's life is ruined following a senseless attack.

26-year-old Raymond Widstrand was assaulted nearly to death on Sunday, Aug. 4, around 11:30 p.m., according to a criminal complaint filed by the Ramsey County attorney's office.

The assault took place within feet of the Eastern District Police Station near the intersection of Payne and Minnehaha avenues.

Widstrand was walking in the area where there was a dispute involving teenagers, many of whom are suspected gang members. He walked into the group and then was attacked.

The complaint said one witness told police that the man was "hit and beaten for no reason."

Paul Paulos, spokesperson for the St. Paul Police department, called the attack "a senseless act."

Boys in the group kicked him and stomped on him, the complaint said.

Police were alerted to the scene, and upon arrival they observed 40 to 50 young people fleeing and found Widstrand lying on the ground with blood coming out his nose and mouth. His pants were off and his shirt was torn up.

Emergency responders transported the victim to Regions Hospital where he was found to have severe and potentially fatal brain swelling.

As of today, the man's prognosis for recovery was slight, authorities reported. Should he live, it is projected that he would suffer permanent brain damage.

A spokesperson at Regions Hospital said today that his condition was listed as critical.

Family in shock

Currently, Widstrand's father Peter Widstrand said his son is in "the most difficult time right now" in terms of brain swelling.

He said he and his wife Linda, as well as their daughter Alice, are hoping for a full recovery for the 26-year old. As of now, medical professionals were "not really giving us that strong of hope," he said.

His father described Raymond Widstrand as "a very caring and compassionate person," someone who's shy at first but can open up once you get to know him.

Widstrand graduated from St. Cloud State University, specializing in TV production. He's been employeed for two years as a master control at Suburban Community Channels, a local TV station based in White Bear Lake, Minn. He grew up in New Brighton, Minn. and attended high school there at Irondale High School.

His sister Alice said he's loved by friends, family and coworkers. She described him as someone who can make a joke at the drop of a hat to cheer you up.

He had just moved to the East Side just a couple of months ago, getting a small apartment very near to where he was attacked at Payne and Minnehaha Avenues. It was his first place all to himself.

His father said his son hadn't expressed any reservations about the neighborhood, and was happy to have his own place.

Linda Widstrand, his mother, was the first in the family to hear of his attack. She was on lunch break at work when police called her.

"I just couldn't believe it," she said. "I was just in shock."

She first visited him in the evening on Monday. He had received a life-saving operation, and she said it was hard to see him so beat-up.

"But I was glad to see him alive," she said.

Gang member arrested

Issac Maiden, 19, of St. Paul is charged in the beating and robbing of Widstrand. He faces two charges for crimes committed for the benefit of a gang -- first-degree assault and aggravated robbery.

His initial hearing was today at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center.

"This was a shocking and senseless attack on an innocent young man who was simply out for a walk in his own neighborhood and is now fighting for his life," said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi in a statement.

Police say Maiden is a known member of the HAM Crazy gang, an East Side youth gang that was recently tied to the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Vincent Arron Allison.

Allison was shot near the intersections of Payne Avenue and Lawson Street on July 11.

According to the criminal complaint, the fight the victim walked into was initially between several girls at a party on Preble Street, a block from the police station.

One female witness told police that a crowd from the party came out to watch the fight.

It was at this time that the 26-year-old victim was struck in the head. He fell to the ground, bleeding.

The witness said "a whole bunch of little East Side boys" started kicking the man then stripping him of his pants and going through his pockets.

The witness reportedly told police she'd tried to protect the man.

Another witness observed a person at the scene using pepper spray on the attackers to try to stop the assault.

In an interview with police, Maiden reportedly denied assaulting the man.

Police have collected the shoes of several suspects, to be analyzed for potential evidence.

They've arrested 4 people, including Maiden and three juveniles.

More arrests are possible, said Paulos.

Dennis Gerhardstein, spokesperson for the Ramsey County Attorney's Office, said the investigation was ongoing.

Police are calling for witnesses to come forward with additional information. Witnesses can call the department at 651-266-5650.

Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com.
 

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