A 32-year-old central Minnesota man faces felony charges for allegedly intentionally crashing a vehicle into the house of a Cold Spring family who has complained publicly about racial harassment they’ve endured.
According to court documents filed Monday in Stearns County District Court, the unoccupied stolen vehicle crashed into the home early Saturday morning, causing extensive damage.
Homeowners Andrea and Phillipe Robinson and their children were home at the time. They were not injured, but say they were left feeling shocked and violated.
“I don't even know how to explain what I'm feeling,” Andrea Robinson said Tuesday. “I'm in disbelief that this happened. And I assumed it just would have been a drunk driver. I could never imagine someone would drive into the front of our house.”
Court documents say a large piece of granite was sitting on the vehicle’s accelerator. Footage from the Robinsons’ doorbell surveillance camera shows the vehicle stopping across the street and a person getting out and running off, before the vehicle crashes into the house.
Benton Beyer, of Richmond, Minn., is charged with felony theft, stalking and damage to property, plus a gross misdemeanor charge of violating a restraining order.
The Robinsons had sought and received a restraining order against Beyer and complained that he was stalking and harassing their family, including watching their home. On July 15, Beyer was arrested in Waite Park for allegedly violating the restraining order.
“We were really concerned for our safety, and kind of felt something [more] was going to happen,” Phillipe Robinson said. “But we didn't think it would be to this point.”
Andrea Robinson has spoken publicly about bullying her Black children have suffered from other students in the Rocori school district and on social media. Last spring, she posted a video on social media describing disturbing messages in a Snapchat group that she said was created about her daughter, which mentioned getting ropes and hanging Black men from trees.
She and other parents also addressed the Rocori school board, asking school officials to do more to tackle racism and unconscious bias in the district.
Robinson plans to attend the Cold Spring City Council meeting Tuesday night to speak out about the latest incident. The couple feels that law enforcement hasn’t done enough to protect their family.
They also believe Beyer should face more severe charges, such as assault or attempted murder motivated by hate.
The Cold Spring/Richmond Police Department said in a statement, "If evidence of a racially motivated crime is found to have occurred, our department will seek prosecution to the fullest extent under the law. We appreciate the community’s patience with the criminal investigation process."
A call to the Stearns County Attorney’s Office on Tuesday was not immediately returned.
“If there is no consequence, it will continue,” Andrea Robinson said. “There’s been no consequence with the education system. There's no consequence with the police and the justice system. In every aspect of our life we have been violated and let down. And we just want to be part of the community and live.”
Mayor Dave Heinen issued a statement saying the city of Cold Spring “vehemently rejects racist behavior in all its forms,” including harassment targeting a community member or family.
“The damage to the sense of security and peace of mind in their own home is even more significant than the property damage resulting from this incident and will leave them with lasting scars,” Heinen stated. “Racist behavior is harmful to our whole community as well. It is not right, and is not welcome here.”
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