Random attack with a gun in Dinkytown leaves young college student injured

The victim is recovering with seven stitches and has "constant pain" in his head and ear.

Injuries received by victim in random Dinkytown assault (Submitted to Alpha News)

A St. Paul college student visiting Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota campus over the weekend was rewarded with a trip to the emergency room for stitches and a possible concussion after being randomly attacked from behind and struck with a gun while gathered with friends.

The attack on 20-year-old Ramsey Nelson occurred just after 2 a.m. Saturday near the intersection of 4th Street Southeast and 14th Avenue Southeast in the heart of the popular gathering spot and off-campus housing area for college students that has seen an increasing number of violent incidents over the last few years.

Police were dispatched about 2:03 a.m. Saturday on a report that the 911 caller’s friend had been struck in the back of the head with a gun and was bleeding heavily, according to police scanner audio.

Police arrived to the area and were flagged down by the reporting parties near a smoke shop, which was the location of a gang related triple shooting in December where one person was injured, and two people were killed. Police said the assault suspect was gone from the area, and they requested EMS to the scene for the victim.

A suspect description was aired as a black male wearing a jacket emblazoned with a cartoon character and tan work boots. The dispatcher aired that a University of Minnesota police officer had the suspect in custody near the Graduate Minneapolis hotel several minutes later at about 2:09 a.m., and that a gun had been recovered.

Ramsey’s father Eric Nelson reached out to Alpha News following the incident and reported that his son who is a student at Concordia University had been taken by ambulance to the hospital emergency room where he spent several hours being treated and tested and had a CT scan performed. He said Ramsey was released in the morning with stitches and a possible concussion.

“It was very disturbing to get a call from our son telling me that he had to spend the night in the Emergency Room after being struck from behind, by a gun, in the head, in a random act of gratuitous violence, while standing and chatting with college friends on the sidewalk,” Eric Nelson said.

Eric Nelson went on to explain that he remembers Dinkytown as a fun and safe area for college kids in years past but said he’s been following the reports of “out-of-control” crime in the Dinkytown area for the past few years.

“I’m very indignant with city government for letting this happen,” Eric Nelson said. “The crime wave that has flooded Minneapolis since 2020 is an easily solvable problem. We need to fully support our law enforcement officers” by bringing the department back to full staffing strength, and “focus on prosecuting criminals with the laws that are already on the books,” he said.

Ramsey Nelson also provided a comment to Alpha News stating that he and four friends had been on the sidewalk across from Blarney Pub “when I felt a smashing blow upside my head from behind.” He said it felt like he’d been hit with a brick. His friends later told him that he was hit so hard that the attacker dropped the gun, which skidded on the ground, at which point the attacker retrieved his gun and ran off. Ramsey said he had no time to react and was left feeling confused. Ramsey said that he and his friends had not had any interaction with the suspect prior to the attack.

“The whole experience has me feeling a lot less safe, especially in Dinkytown,” Ramsey said.

As of this week, Ramsey said he was still recovering with seven stitches and has “constant pain” in his head and ear.

Dexter Armond Jackson, 24 (the jail record incorrectly lists his age as 34), of north Minneapolis was charged on Tuesday with one count of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. The criminal complaint recounts the events described by Ramsey and his friends who were witnesses but gives no indication of Jackson’s motive for the attack.

Dexter Armond Jackson (Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office)

Court records show that Jackson was convicted of a felony one year ago on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, which would make Jackson ineligible to possess firearms.

Jackson’s 5-year prison sentence on the gun crime conviction was stayed in a downward dispositional departure from sentencing guidelines by Hennepin County Judge Lisa K. Janzen. Jackson was instead credited with 94 days already spent in jail and was placed on probation for a term of three years.

The sentencing departure was part of a plea agreement offered by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. Reasons listed for the sentencing departure by Judge Janzen stated that Jackson “lacked substantial capacity for judgement” and that he was particularly amenable to probation and treatment.

However, at least two probation violation warrants had been issued for Jackson following his sentencing on the gun crime, and he was wanted on the latest warrant in that case at the time of his arrest in Ramsey Nelson’s assault.

Court records also show that Jackson has at least two other active criminal cases on charges of fifth-degree assault and theft, as well as an active mental health court case that indicates an order for civil commitment due to mental illness was filed by the court in September of last year. Information was not immediately available as to why Jackson had not been civilly committed following the order seven months ago.

It’s also not immediately clear why Jackson wasn’t also newly charged by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office with being a felon in possession of a firearm, which, upon a second conviction on the charge, would trigger a mandatory minimum 5-year prison sentence.

Jackson is scheduled to make his first court appearance on the new assault charge on Wednesday afternoon. Jackson also has a court appearance scheduled for Thursday morning related to his two other active cases and the probation violation on the gun crime conviction.

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.


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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.