Ray Widstrand, St. Paul beating victim, forgives his attackers

Ray Widstrand
Ray Widstrand is recovering after almost being beaten to death near his home on St. Paul's East Side.
MPR Photo/Matt Sepic

Ray Widstrand was walking home near his apartment Aug. 4 in St. Paul's East Side neighborhood when he was attacked during a street brawl that involved 30-40 young people.

Five people -- including four juveniles -- have been charged in the assault.

Two months after the attack, Widstrand is undergoing therapy at the Courage Center in Golden Valley -- and says he feels sorry for his attackers.

On his memories after the attack:

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"I woke up in the hospital. I had my family surrounding me, and they were very supportive of me."

On the helmet he has to wear to protect his brain after part of his skull had to be removed because of swelling:

"Those muscle groups and connections [don't] exist between the brain and the extremities anymore. I can't seem to make anybody understand how difficult that is, but I try. And it's cool having all the support. Something I've learned living with my family is to maintain a positive mental attitude at all times. ... I've always been a positive person. And even when it's dark, there's a dawn ahead."

On why he thinks he was attacked:

"I have no idea. I approached my attackers. Maybe that was my mistake. But I feel like on a public street in broad daylight, you should be safe around your own home. And I wasn't, unfortunately."

Does he want to say anything to them?

"No, there isn't. Other than I'm healing, and I'll be out before anyone is ready for me to be out. And I can't help but feel sorry for those people who did this to me."

Can he forgive his attackers?

"I already have. I don't think my family has. Because they have to sit back and watch me come to, and try to be normal again. They're the ones who are suffering, because they're on the sidelines watching me stumble and fall and get back up again. Meanwhile, I am in control."

After another month of therapy, Widstrand will undergo surgery to replace the section of skull doctors removed after the attack. He says his goal is to be out of the Courage Center and back at his job at a suburban cable TV company by mid December.

"Look out at the Christmas party, because I'm going to be showing up."