By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An assault on Nicollet Mall turned a public safety advocate into a victim.

The latest attack happened to a downtown resident in the middle of the day, and WCCO learned how police are working to make downtown safer.

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“I left my office, I had my cellphone and my AirPods on, I was making a phone call, then I started talking,” said Joe Tamburino, a member of the downtown council and groups like the Hennepin Avenue Safety Committee. He also lives and works downtown.

It happened while he crossed downtown to grab a coffee.

“It was a slam to something in my head, something on my shoulder and something on my wrist,” said Tamburino.

Tamburino says he was randomly attacked at 10:45 Wednesday morning.

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“It stunned me for a second, I jerked back up and that’s when I saw him,” said Tamburino.

While he was on the phone with 911 Tamburino also followed his attacker down the street near Ninth and Marquette and that’s when he says a squad car came around the corner.

“Not only did I see a police officer on the street but 911 sent another squad with two officers,” said Tamburino. “It just so happens that I was lucky enough where the perpetrator was caught within a block.”

WCCO confirmed with Minneapolis police that there are extra beat officers downtown right now — a collaboration with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, Metro Transit and MPD that was supposed to end on Labor Day.

The department hopes to keep it up until October, and says officers are working overtime beyond their normal shifts to make it happen — despite being down hundreds of officers.

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“We have to make the business engine of downtown, of the entire state, a safe place,” said Tamburino. “This is my neighborhood. I’m not moving and I want to make downtown safer.”

Erin Hassanzadeh