Man charged for post-State Fair assault

Gunner Dade McClellan

A St. Paul man was charged Nov. 29 with felony assault for a fight this summer near the Minnesota State Fairgrounds that landed another man in the hospital with bleeding and swelling on his brain.

Gunner Dade McClellan, 21, was charged in Ramsey County District Court with first-degree assault-great bodily harm for allegedly punching a man in the early morning hours of Sept. 1 on Albert Street just south of Como Avenue in St. Paul.

The man, who was born in 1969, according to court documents, required surgery to remove a portion of his skull after the alleged punch, which knocked him unconscious. He’s currently required to wear a helmet when not in bed because his skull has yet to be repaired, and he’s unable to work.

McClellan and a friend allegedly followed and egged on a group of three men, which included the man who was injured, after the trio left the fair in Falcon Heights and headed home. While McClellan’s friend scuffled with one of the men, McClellan allegedly punched the victim once, knocking him to the ground.

McClellan’s first appearance in court was Dec. 3. He was released on $75,000 bail and will be back in court Dec. 17.

The maximum penalty for first-degree assault-great bodily harm is 20 years, a $30,000 fine, or both.


‘Like a ton of bricks’

According to court documents, police interviewed the two men who were with the victim at the time of the assault. 

One of the men said that after he was done working at the fair on Aug. 31, he met the victim and a friend around 10 p.m. and they walked around the Midway at the fair and had some beers. 

The man who’d been working at the fair was going to give his friends a ride home, so the trio left the fairgrounds through the Como/Snelling avenues gate and walked through the neighborhood to get to his car.

The man told police the three passed a home in the 1400 block of Breda Avenue where a group of men and women had gathered outside, court documents said, and the group heckled the men, calling them sexual and gay slurs. The three men exchanged words with the group, and two men who were at the home followed them.

The second man who was with the victim told police a similar story, according to court documents.

Both men said the trio eventually stopped at the mouth of an alley, where one of the men scuffled with one of the pursuers, and where the victim was allegedly punched by a man later identified by other witnesses as McClellan, court documents said.

After he fell to the ground “like a ton of bricks,” according to one of his friends, the victim bled from his mouth, according to court documents.

On Sept. 3, three women who had been with the group at the Breda Avenue home gave police statements regarding the assault. They largely backed up what the victim’s friends had told police, and said that McClellan and the other man who’d followed the trio allegedly had a history of starting fights — one of the women said McClellan had been doing so since he was 15.

Police talked to the man who’d been with McClellan, who said the trio of men had yelled at the group gathered at the home, starting the confrontation. He said he didn’t say anything back to the other men, court documents said.

He admitted to police that McClellan was allegedly “pretty jacked up and then like all mad and stuff,” about the exchange of words, and that he did scuffle with one of the men and that McClellan had punched the victim.

Police interviewed McClellan, who said the trio of men had been the instigators of the confrontation — he also said one of the three men said that one of them was drunk and they didn’t want any problems. McClellan said he and his friend told the men to walk off, but that they were also fired up by the incident, according to court documents.

McClellan allegedly told police that one of the other men grabbed his friend and they started to fight at the alleyway; he said the victim walked towards him with his fists up and then swung at him, missing. McClellan allegedly told police he then punched the man, not hitting him as hard as he could have because he was off balance. 

McClellan allegedly told police after the punch landed that he told his friend they had to go because they were outnumbered, court documents said.


—Mike Munzenrider

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