Charges alleging racism as a motive have been added against a central Minnesota man accused of crashing an SUV into a multiracial family's home near St. Cloud because he suspected his girlfriend at the time of cheating on him with Black or biracial man.
Benton L. Beyer, 32, of Richmond, is now charged in Stearns County District Court with 11 counts, including assault with a dangerous weapon, in connection with the unoccupied stolen SUV slamming into Andrea Robinson's house in Cold Spring on July 24.
The crash caused extensive damage to the home, including to the siding and potentially the roof. The house was occupied at the time, with one child sleeping on the couch in the living room, which is near where the vehicle with a piece of granite on the accelerator hit the house. No one was physically hurt. Beyer was previously charged with violation of a restraining order, property damage, stalking and theft.
Dozens of people - some Cold Spring residents and some advocates from central Minnesota or the Twin Cities - went before the City Council soon after home was damaged to demand its members denounce racism and take meaningful action after the Black family has been the repeated target of harassment.
Beyer was arrested that day and remains jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail. A message was left with his attorney Wednesday seeking a response to the additional charges.
"At the time of the assault, the defendant wrongfully believed that [his girlfriend] had cheated on him with a Black or biracial male associated with the victim's household," read the complaint, which made clear that the Robinson family had no connection to the woman. "The defendant was also generally angry about [her] previously cheating on him with a Black male.
"Investigation revealed that the defendant targeted this household for the assault because the home contained individuals who were Black or biracial."
The charges also dispelled suspicions that a toy bear with a noose located in the stolen SUV was an indication of Beyer's sentiments toward people of color. The vehicle's owners told investigators that the bear had been in his vehicle for years, the complaint read.
Two of the 11 counts against him allege assault with a dangerous weapon, namely the stolen car. Descriptions accompanying the counts say Beyer acted "because of the victim's ... actual or perceived race or color."
The restraining order was issued in May. A recent investigation revealed 18 calls to authorities in recent months regarding Beyer stalking and harassing Robinson, according to court documents. Beyer was also arrested on July 15 for violating the restraining order and then released four days later.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482