The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 18, 2013

Four face charges in MSU incident

Two suspects charged, two others at large Monday

By Dan Nienaber

---- — MANKATO — An incident that prompted a "shelter in place" warning on the Minnesota State University campus Friday allegedly resulted from a marijuana deal that went bad the night before.

A man who was cut by a knife during a struggle in an MSU dorm room Friday had stolen marijuana from one of at least two men who barged into the room around 3 p.m. Friday, according to criminal complaints filed in Blue Earth County District Court. The two men who have been charged with breaking into the room and assaulting the victim both told police the victim pulled the knife and was cut while one of the men attempted to take it away.

The man who was cut, 18-year-old Kjontra Dupre Diamond of Coon Rapids, was with his girlfriend, 18-year-old Jamie Elizabeth Beck of Blaine, when the men broke into Beck's dorm room in the G wing of the McElroy Residence Community. Beck is a student at the university. Diamond is not enrolled at MSU.

The men accused of breaking into the room are 22-year-old David Mulbah Swaray of Mankato, a building services employee at the university, and 18-year-old Brandon Jonathan Brown, an MSU student living in the Crawford Residence Community dormitory.

Officials at the university issued the "shelter in place" warning to students at about 3:30 p.m. after word of the assault spread and police reported the suspects had not been arrested. That warning was lifted at about 5 p.m.

Investigators interviewed Beck and Diamond shortly after the incident was reported. Diamond, who had a large cut on his hand, repeatedly told a police officer he didn't know the men who attacked him, the complaints said. Beck told a detective that a group of men she didn't know broke into her room and the "leader" attacked her and Diamond. She also reported the men took her $500 laptop computer.

That detective later learned the assault was retaliation for a drug-related robbery that had happened the night before. When the detective confronted Diamond about what he had been told, Diamond allegedly admitted that he, Beck and another man had arranged to buy $80 worth of marijuana the night before. He said they took the marijuana without paying for it because the person selling it provided an amount that wasn't worth the money, the complaint said.

Brown also was asked about the report of a drug deal. He allegedly told a police officer he had received a text from Beck, who he didn't know at the time, at about 7 p.m. Thursday asking "Can I get an 80-sack?" They agreed to meet at about 8 p.m.

While Brown was waiting for Beck, two men approached him instead. They said Beck was waiting outside and told Brown to come out to a car with them, the complaint said. Brown identified one of the men as Diamond. He also reported Beck and another woman were in the front seats of the car and that he sat between Diamond and the other man in the back of the car.

Both men allegedly started assaulting Brown in the car by punching him in the head and face. Brown told the officer the marijuana was taken, the men attempted to take his wallet and he received a bloody nose during the assault, the complaint said.

After returning to his dorm and telling friends he had been robbed, Brown found out that Beck lived in the McElroy dormitory. Beck's roommate told police four men she didn't know had stopped at their room Thursday night, but Beck wasn't there. Brown also told police he had gone to the dorm room Thursday night with friends, but they left after realizing Beck wasn't there.

Beck's roommate also told police she left the room Friday afternoon because Beck and Diamond had been smoking marijuana inside. A short time later the group of men returned and started yelling at the couple, the roommate said. She said Diamond was cut during the fight, but she didn't see who had the knife.

Swaray and another witness, Teacon Williams, told investigators they went to the room Friday to confront Beck after Brown told them he had been robbed, the complaint said. Swaray and Williams both said Diamond stood up, pulled out a knife and cut Swaray in the head with it. Swaray then attempted to take the knife from Diamond and that's when Diamond was cut, the men said. Officers did see cuts on Swaray's head, the complaint said.

Bail was set at $10,000 for Brown and Swaray when they appeared in court Monday for first-degree burglary and assault charges. Swaray told District Court Judge Brad Walker he will likely lose his job at MSU as a result of the incident, but he is enrolled for classes again next semester. Brown told Walker he will not be able to return to his dorm room on campus.

Swaray was one of four men arrested in January 2011 after someone called 911 to report the men had forced their way into an apartment and rummaged through the room of a man who wasn't there. No charges were filed against him for that incident.

Beck and Diamond, who have been charged with first-degree robbery and simple robbery, were not arrested after talking to police Friday. Warrants have been issued for their arrest.

There is the possibility that others could be charged, Assistant Blue Earth County Attorney Pat McDermott said Monday.