A man and three boys remain in custody following the near-fatal beating of a St. Paul man who came across a large, gang-related brawl as he walked home, police say.
Ray Widstrand, 26, was hospitalized in critical condition with potentially fatal brain swelling.
Witnesses told police Widstrand was attacked for no reason, and his family members were baffled by the news. Speaking to FOX 9 News, family members said the last few days have felt like a bad dream.
"He's a very compassionate and caring person," said his father, Peter, "and those who are lucky enough to know him know just how smart and caring and witty he can be."
Widstrand's family told FOX 9 he had moved into his own apartment near Minnehaha and Preble in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood a couple of months ago. He loved his job as a master control operator for a public access channel in White Bear Lake.
"He was my big brother. We are so close. There [are] really no words to describe it. Still in shock," said his sister Alice.
Police say Widstrand was walking home last Sunday night when he came across 30 to 40 young gang members fighting in the street. When he tried to walk through the crowd, he was knocked to the ground, hit and stomped on. Police say someone even took off his pants and went through his pockets before leaving him unconscious and bleeding. All this took place just a block away from the Eastern District Police Headquarters.
"I was at lunch and someone came and said I had a call from police. I couldn't believe it." recalled Widstrand's mother, Linda. "They asked was I Ray's mother? Then, they told me he'd been in accident or something. I couldn't believe it."
Since the beating, Widstrand has undergone two surgeries to relieve swelling in his brain, but he remains in a medically-induced coma at Regions Hospital. Doctors say even if he survives, he'll most likely have permanent brain damage.
"I don't understand why anyone would do that to another person. They'll have to answer that question," Peter Widstrand said.
Family members hope the four people arrested by police may be able to provide some answers. At this point, one man and three teenagers are in custody, but investigators say more arrests could be on the way.
Meanwhile, Widstrand's family hopes he'll make a full recovery and they say he gets better with every day that goes by.
"Its hard to see anyone in that position but to see a sibling. There's really no words to describe that feeling," Alice said. "He's loved by his friends, loved by his co-workers -- everyone who knew him. He could bring a smile to your face."
Police charged Isaac Maiden with assault and aggravated robbery. They say all the arrestees are members of the East Side Boys or their younger off-shoot, the Ham Crazy Gangs.