Two rapes reported near Hennepin Avenue, one victim abducted at rush hour
Minneapolis Police are actively investigating two reported rapes occurring the first week of February in Downtown -- including one with the confirmed use of a gun.
Lt. Chris Hildreth, head of the sex crimes unit, said the assaults' circumstances were similar, but there's no pattern or trend.
According to the Star Tribune, both assaults occurred on Feb. 6, a Friday. However, the first occurred at 2:30 in the morning (a half-hour after Thursday night bar time), while the second occurred at 5:30 p.m., during Friday's rush hour.
In the early-morning incident, unknown suspects in a car reportedly approached a woman in an out-of-the-way area near 5th Street and Hennepin Avenue. The woman, in her 20s, was assaulted.
The rush-hour incident happened on the busy corner of 8th Street and Hennepin. Suspects forced a woman in her 40s who standing on the sidewalk into a car at gunpoint. The suspects then sexually and physically assaulted her, and did not release her until 11 a.m. the next day.
An employee of Capital Grille, 801 Hennepin Ave. S., told Skyway News that she heard the assault and it occurred near the bus stop across Hennepin from Shinder's, 733 Hennepin Ave. S.
Shinder's store manager (who requested his name be withheld) said would have appreciated a crime alert, since he had just heard of the incidents when a Skyway News reporter called.
Hildreth said no crime alerts were issued because the incidents (including a third in northwest Minneapolis) happened at different times with different suspect information.
Hildreth said suspect information in the incidents is not available and he can't confirm if a gun was used in the early-morning assault. Hildreth said he also couldn't disclose the victims' condition or whether they sought medical treatment.
The Shinder's manager said there are frequent crime problems at the bus stop, but nothing like this before. "Anywhere on Hennepin that you have a bus stop, you're at a higher risk," he said.
The manager said a more frequent police presence would help, because half of the people at the bus stops are there waiting for the bus and the other half just hanging-out. He said when police do patrol the bus stops, he watches people scatter.
Hildreth said those concerned about safety Downtown should remember to stay in groups and make sure someone knows your plans.
He said individuals should practice plans of what they'd do in an attempted assault situation. Hildreth also added it's important for people not to get themselves into situations where they can be easily victimized, such as being severely drunk.
For more information about personal safety, visit the police Web site at www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/police/crime-prevention/.
Eat Street housing meetings begin Thursday
The neighborhood group Citizens for a Loring Park Community is hosting two brainstorming workshops on Feb. 19 and March 4 to spark development ideas for a stretch of Nicollet Avenue between 14th and 16th streets.
Neighborhood leaders are encouraging residents, developers and business owners to attend the "Eat Street" meetings for the Corridor Housing Initiative project -- a collaboration among neighborhood, city and county leaders to address a projected need for 26,000 new housing units in the next 20 years.
Initiative sponsor Center for Neighborhoods will assist Loring Park neighborhood leaders in their development plans by assisting with market research, fund-raising and community outreach.
The meetings are 6-8 p.m. at the Loring Park Community Center in the new park shelter off of Willow Street.
The Loring Park neighborhood group submitted a development plan calling for high-density housing along Nicollet Avenue south of West 15th Street. A nonprofit office cooperative, along with offices for the neighborhood organization, would go above the Red Eye Theatre, 15 W. 14th St.
The plan also envisions more green space along the avenue and new retail development.
The Loring Park neighborhood on Downtown's southwestern edge is bordered by Interstate 94 to the south, Hennepin and Lyndale avenues to the west, and Hawthorne Avenue to the north. The neighborhood's border with the Downtown core is 12th Street.
-- Sarah McKenzie
Downtown library store seeks volunteers
The Minneapolis Public Library's Downtown bookstore needs volunteers immediately. If you like the idea of working in a used bookstore and are available one afternoon a week or from 5-7 p.m. on Thursdays, call 630-6170 or visit friendsofmpl.org.
The bookstore is located in the interim Central Library, 250 Marquette Ave., 2nd floor. All book sale proceeds go toward library programs.
-- David Brauer
Volunteers needed for LRT celebration
The Nicollet Mall Light Rail Transit Station Celebration Team is looking for volunteers to help make this LRT's April 3 opening a great downtown Neighborhood celebration.
The group needs five people per two-hour shift from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Volunteers will hand out information and staff, set up and take down a booth on Nicollet Mall between 5th and 6th streets.
To volunteer, or for more information, send an e-mail to LRT@mn.rr.com as soon as possible. For more information on the Downtown LRT stations, see www.metrocouncil.org /transportation/lrt/stations/downtown.htm.
-- David Brauer
Pride group seeks volunteers
The GLBT Pride/Twin Cities organization is calling for volunteers to assist them with the annual publication of "The Pride Guide."
The GLBT Pride/Twin Cities coordinates the third-largest Pride celebration in the country. "The Pride Guide" is an annual magazine of the Twin Cities Pride Celebration, featuring listings of entertainment, vendor and event schedules for Pride events. The Guide also includes several articles, a Nightlight Guide and a Regional Guide to Pride events.
Twin Cities Pride is a volunteer organization, however, they need to fill some contract positions. If you are interested in becoming a publication designer, production assistant, senior editor, writer or distribution assistant for Pride Guide 2004, please contact the Twin Cities Pride Organization at 952-852-6109. For information on qualifications needed for these positions, visit the GLBT/Twin Cities Web site at www.tcpride.org.
GLBT/Twin Cities needs volunteers all year- round, not just during Pride. To help, contact the volunteer director by calling 952-852-6131 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Hayley Tsukayama
Seniors, low-income people can get free tax help
AARP and Hennepin County are offering free income-tax assistance for seniors and low-income people.
The Tax Aide Volunteer Program is offered through April 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays, on the "A" Level of the Hennepin County Government Center, 300 S. 6th St., and in Room 11 of Minneapolis City Hall, 350 S. 5th St.
Last year, volunteers helped 3,500 people file their tax forms. For more information, contact Hennepin County at 348-3848 or online at www.hennepin.us.
-- Tom Carothers