MANKATO, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — Former Minnesota Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson has been charged with one count of first-degree assault and one count of third-degree assault in an incident that left a former Minnesota State linebacker fighting for his life.
Isaac Dallas Kolstad, 24, of Mankato, was in critical condition Monday at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, according to hospital spokesman Kevin Burns.
A police statement said officers came across Kolstad while patrolling the city’s downtown entertainment district around 2 a.m. Sunday. Nelson was arrested at the scene and taken to the Blue Earth County jail, the statement said.
Nelson, 20, made his first court appearance Monday afternoon. He was released from jail later that evening.
Police say Nelson kicked Kolstad in the head as bars were closing in Mankato. The kick came after Kolstad had been punched and knocked to the ground by another man, who remains at-large. According to the criminal complaint, doctors are not sure he will survive.
In a press conference, Mankato Police asked for the public’s help to identify that second suspect. Photos and video surveillance were released of the incident, which shows the second suspect running from the scene.
The unidentified suspect is described as a white man, in his early 20s, wearing a red T-shirt and jeans. The suspect’s T-shirt was torn during the incident.
Video shows a white vehicle that entered the parking ramp from Cherry Street that stopped in the area where the assault took place. The driver and passenger are asked to contact police to discuss what they witnessed.
Police are also looking to speak with any other witnesses that were present. Anyone who may have information is asked to call 911.
According to the criminal complaint, Nelson was upset after a bouncer kissed his girlfriend’s hand. He and his girlfriend left the bar and ran into Kolstad near a bus stop, where the two men began arguing.
Charges say that’s when the unidentified suspect ran in and punched Kolstad, knocking him to the ground. The complaint states Nelson said he doesn’t remember kicking Kolstad in the head twice.
Nelson left the Gophers in January to transfer to Rutgers. A representative from Rutgers would not comment on Nelson’s current status at the school.
“We are in the process of gathering information on the situation and reserve comment until the legal process is complete,” Rutgers athletics spokesman Jason Baum said in a statement Sunday.
A candlelight vigil for Kolstad was held at Minnesota State University on Sunday night.
Former football player Sam Thompson said Kolstad has a 3-year-old daughter, and that his wife is pregnant. Kolstad recently started working at Fastenal, a local company, he said.
Fellow MSU player Barry Ballinger described Kolstad as having a spirit of perseverance.
“I know he’s a strong guy. I know he’s going to fight through this,” said Ballinger, a senior defensive tackle.
His family released a statement on Monday, saying they are thankful for everyone’s support.
“We are overwhelmed and extremely grateful for the warmth, support, love and prayers we have received over the last several days. We feel it – Isaac feels it – and we cannot express how important and helpful that has been.
We remain at Isaac’s bedside, vigilant in our love and support and hopeful and prayerful – not only for him, our family, friends and well-wishers.
We also extend our sincere thoughts and prayers to the Nelson family and others whose lives have been impacted by this situation.
We have been touched by the outpouring of love from the Mankato community and many others. We are particularly grateful for the support shown by the Minnesota State University Community – your vigil last night and all your prayers have touched our hearts and will remain with us.”
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RAW VIDEO: Mankato Police Press Conference