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Grand Forks man arrested in Greenway assault case

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Authorities have filed charges against a Grand Forks man accusing him of assaulting a woman on the Greenway in East Grand Forks last month.

Robert John Burr, 48, is the man East Grand Forks Police and Polk County prosecutors believe barreled into a woman on the Greenway and physically assaulted her June 26.

He is currently in custody in Grand Forks, where he was arrested Sunday and charged with terrorizing, a Class C felony, and domestic assault, a misdemeanor, for allegedly throwing a woman onto a pile of wood pallets and threatening her with a hammer.

Burr now has been charged with three felony counts in Minnesota: attempted kidnapping, false imprisonment and domestic assault. He also faces a gross misdemeanor stalking charge. He could spend up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

East Grand Forks Police officers were dispatched to the Greenway near the north-end pedestrian bridge at 4:44 p.m. June 26 on reports of an assault. A woman told them she had been rollerblading north toward the bridge when a man she had passed earlier ran into her with an orange bicycle, knocking her to the ground.

The woman was on the path when the man came up behind her, asked if she was OK and grabbed her under her arms to lift her up, according to a criminal complaint. But instead of helping her, the man violently dragged the woman off the path, according to a criminal complaint, telling her to “shut up and be still.”

The woman continued to resist and get out of her rollerblades. She told police the man punched her in the face and was trying to pull her by the arm before fleeing the scene on his bike.

The victim called police, who observed scrapes and other injuries.

It is the first assault of its kind on the Greenway, according to law enforcement on both sides of the river.

The suspect was described as a thin white man with long gray hair and a gray beard.

Detective Tony Hart subsequently conducted interviews with other women who reported being followed and scared by a man matching a similar description on the Greenway, one of whom identified Burr and said he’d followed her about a year ago.

Police interviewed Burr in his Grand Forks home on July 3, when he stated he could not recall what he did that day but said he liked to bike on the Greenway.

Hart spoke to Burr’s girlfriend July 10, the day after he was arrested in Grand Forks on terrorizing and domestic assault charges. She told him Burr had been been acting strange and violent and that he had not been working or at home the afternoon of June 26.

She told police Burr shaved his beard on June 27, and was in a “frantic” state, according to the criminal complaint.

Burr has a lengthy criminal history in Grand Forks, including a conviction for felony terrorizing and twice pleading guilty to simple assault, according to court records. Police say he also has a lengthy criminal record in Oregon.

It is unclear when Burr will be extradited to Minnesota.