UPDATE: During gunpoint robbery, Minn. lawmaker says he remained calm
ST. PAUL -- Police are investigating after a state representative reported being robbed at gunpoint on a St. Paul street Thursday night.
Rep. Dennis Smith, R-Maple Grove, was not injured in the robbery at Grand Avenue and Milton Street, police said.
“A gentleman approached me and he had a gun out, asked for my wallet and my phone and I agreed. And I was able to walk away safely,” Smith said Friday morning.
Officers responded to Salut Bar Americain on Grand Avenue at 10:40 Thursday night, where Smith had returned to call for help, said Steve Linders, a St. Paul police spokesman.
Smith reported that he was talking on his cellphone as he walked on Milton, just north of Grand, when a man approached. The man held a handgun at waist level and pointed it at Smith, Linders said. He told Smith, “Give me your wallet and phone,” which he did, according to police.
Smith said that he had had dinner at Salut with fellow legislators, that they all left at the same time, and that the encounter happened after they had dispersed to walk separately to their cars. He said the interaction with the mugger was quick.
“I think he was in a hurry and I was willing to abide by that, as long as I was able to walk away safely,” Smith said. “Whenever you have, presumably, a loaded weapon pointing at you, I think it’s scary, by nature … but you try to manage the situation as best you can.”
The mugger then ran across Milton Street and into an alley north of Grand. Police set up a perimeter, and a police dog searched for the suspect but did not find him.
Smith, who on Thursday also had his Real ID bill signed into law, was sanguine about the potentially violent encounter when discussing it with a reporter on the House floor Friday morning.
“Being in the Legislature trains you to be calm and relaxed, to take things as they come towards you and deal with the cards that you are dealt,” he said.
The robber was described as a black man, 25 to 35 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches tall with an average build, very short black hair and clean shaven. He was wearing all dark clothing, including a sweatshirt with the hood up. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 651-266-5650.