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60-year-old hit with hammer outside restaurant

Rochester man in custody

By Janice Gregorson

gregor@postbulletin.com

A 60-year-old Rochester man is in serious condition today after being hit on the head with a hammer while unloading cleaning equipment at the Perkins North restaurant early this morning.

Police Capt. Jim Pittenger said the assault took place about 1:40 a.m. outside the rear entrance of the restaurant.

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A 39-year-old Rochester man is in custody and could face criminal charges. Pittenger said investigators also are trying to determine if three other men taken into custody near the scene were involved.

Police received multiple calls of the assault. They came from customers and employees who witnessed the attack as well as a motorist driving by. The restaurant is located at 432 16th Ave. N.W.

When officers arrived, they found the victim on the ground, semi-conscious, lying in a pool of blood. Pittenger said a hammer stained with blood was found nearby.

Pittenger said robbery is believed to be the motive. He said the victim's pants pockets had been turned inside out. Officers also found the victim's wallet nearby, along with a $5 bill on the ground. The victim did not see his assailant, but told police he saw a man walking through the parking lot and the next thing he knew, he was hit on the head.

Witnesses gave police a description of the suspect, who ran off on foot. About an hour later, officers responding to an unrelated noise call in the 800 block of West Center Street noticed a man matching the description walking on the street. They said he had blood on his clothing and had hand injuries. He was taken into custody for questioning and was later arrested, Pittenger said.

In the interim, officers at the Perkins site had talked to three men walking across 16th Avenue Northwest to see if they had witnessed the assault. One of the men had keys to a van in the parking lot Pittenger said officers believe was owned by the suspect now in custody. Pittenger said investigators are still trying to determine if the three men had any knowledge of the incident. Two of the men are being held on outstanding warrants. The third was intoxicated and taken to the Zumbro Valley Crisis Receiving Center.

The police mapping unit was at the scene this morning taking measurements for incident reconstruction purposes. They also are scouring the area for evidence, Pittenger said.

Authorities did not identify the victim this morning. He was taken to Saint Marys Hospital by Gold Cross ambulance.

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Pittenger said two of the witnesses were female customers who saw the attack, then ran back inside the store to have employees call 911. They then left. Pittenger is asking that the women call investigator Tom Pingel at 287-1628 or 285-8580.

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