MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Maplewood Police say a 40-year-old St. Paul man died shortly after being assaulted for trying to break up a bar fight late Tuesday night.

Now, a 23-year-old man is in custody and two others are being actively sought for their alleged involvement.

Just before midnight, police officers were dispatched to Fred’s Tiki Hut at 1820 Rice Street on the report of an assault where three suspects fled in a car. Upon arrival, officers said they talked with a victim, identified as Eduardo Alberto Figueroa, who said he had been knocked down and kicked multiple times in the face and head.

Figueroa refused to be seen by paramedics and told police he was going to go to the hospital on his own. He went to his St. Paul home, however, and about an hour later told his family he felt ill and shortly fell unconscious.

When emergency responders arrived, he had stopped breathing and had no pulse. They tried reviving him, but he was pronounced dead at the home.

Police, using information received on the suspect vehicle’s license plate, were able to locate the car in the area of Rice Street and Hyacinth Avenue.

One of the suspects, identified as 23-year-old Brandon Jermel Smith of St. Paul, was arrested without incident on suspicion of homicide.

Police say an investigation indicates that after an argument in the bar, a woman associated with Smith and another male suspect began to assault a woman at the bar.

Figueroa, a married father of three, stepped in an attempted to break up the assault, but was knocked to the floor and kicked in the face and head by Smith and the other man.

Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell says surveillance video shows the entire incident.

“You see this man go down on the floor, you see him get kicked several times, you see him, what we believe for at least for a short period of time, he was unconscious, and then you see the suspects leave the bar,” Schnell said.

He says the beating left Figueroa banged up, with bruises and scrapes on his face.

“Anytime somebody is down and being kicked and stomped on, on the floor, it was clearly exceedingly violent,” Schnell said.

It was Figueroa’s 40th birthday.

Daniel Medina, a longtime friend and employee of Figueroa, struggles with how his boss died. Figueroa owned a tattoo shop.

“It hasn’t sunk in deep, I just keep thinking of all the good times,” Medina said. “Advice he would give to me about life and trying harder,” Medina said. “There’s no reason for him to lose his life, you know. Especially for the way he lost his life.”

Smith does have a history of brawling, Schnell added, and the case will be turned over to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office as early as Thursday.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Maplewood Police at 651-767-0640 or 911. Anonymous tips can be sent by texting “Maplewood” and tip information to TIP411 (847411).

Jennifer Mayerle

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