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Ex-Twins minor league uses bat against intruder

DULUTH A former Iron Range two-sport star athlete who once made a living swinging a baseball bat used one this week to ward off a burglar. But the bat he used was turned against him, leading to criminal charges against a Duluth man. Stephan J. Le...

DULUTH

A former Iron Range two-sport star athlete who once made a living swinging a baseball bat used one this week to ward off a burglar. But the bat he used was turned against him, leading to criminal charges against a Duluth man.

Stephan J. Leland, 23, is charged with first-degree attempted burglary and second-degree assault after allegedly attempting to enter the East Second Street apartment of Eli Tintor on Sunday.

Tintor, a Hibbing High School graduate, was an 18th-round draft choice of the Minnesota Twins in 2003. He played at the minor-league level until the Twins released him last year.

According to the criminal complaint, Tintor and a friend were watching a movie at 3:40 a.m. when they heard the sound of a screen being ripped from a living room window.

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Taking a cell phone and a baseball bat, Tintor, followed by his friend, quietly went to the front door to see who was there. An individual, who Tintor recognized and knew as "Steve,'' was standing there and fled when he saw Tintor and his friend. The man, later identified as Leland, was described as about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, wearing gray sweat pants and a gray hooded sweatshirt with the hood over his head.

When Tintor yelled at him, Leland allegedly turned around and ran at Tintor as if he were going to attack him. Tintor told police that he swung his wooden baseball bat, striking the defendant somewhere in the upper body. The two then fought.

Leland was able to get Tintor in a headlock and was choking him while forcing him to the ground. Tintor said he was on his stomach while being choked. He swung the bat with one hand, attempting to strike Leland to get him off of him. Tintor told his friend to call 911. The friend approached Leland to try to help Tintor and Tintor accidently struck his friend in the head with the bat. The friend later required hospital treatment for a wound on the side of the head.

Leland allegedly grabbed the bat and swung one time at Tintor's head. Tintor raised his right arm in an attempt to block the swing, causing the bat to strike him on the top of his right wrist. The defendant then fled the scene with the bat.

Tintor told officers that he had seen the defendant frequently visiting another apartment in the same building he lived in. Leland reportedly had been kicked out of a Duluth bar at

1:30 a.m. Police found Leland on the 600 block of North 10th Avenue East. He had several fresh cuts to his face and elbow. He told officers that he had been in the vicinity of Tintor's apartment but had not been involved in any altercation. He claimed that his injuries were received as a result of being beaten up and thrown out of a bar earlier in the evening.

After leaving professional baseball, Tintor enrolled at the University of Minnesota Duluth and was a freshman on the Bulldog football team last fall. He couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

Leland has been summoned to appear on the charges in St. Louis County District Court on June 8.

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The Duluth News Tribune and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

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