Suspected 'St. Paul slapper' charged after Columbia Heights arrest

The 38 year old is being linked to a string of random attacks across St. Paul.
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Justin Kaneakua

The man police believe is linked to a series of random "slapping" assaults across St. Paul has been charged with a crime in Columbia Heights. 

Justin Kaneakua, 38, of Minneapolis, was arrested on Tuesday in connection with an assault at a business in Columbia Heights on Jan. 7.

According to a criminal complaint, Kaneakua punched a man several times and also tried hitting him with a metal pipe in a parking lot outside a business on Central Avenue.

He attacked when the victim was trying to call 911, with Kaneakua punching him in the face. The victim chased him after his phone was taken, only for Kaneakua to pull the metal pipe from his car, a Subaru.

Kaneakua made a swing for the victim, but slipped on the ice and fell.

He's been charged with 3rd-degree assault and attempted 2nd-degree assault, but could face more if he's found to be the man dubbed "The St. Paul slapper."

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Police in St. Paul have been looking for the man responsible for at least five random attacks on strangers in December and January.

In each case, a man would get out of a Subaru and proceed to either slap a stranger, assault them with an object, threaten them or damage their vehicles.

After Kaneakua was arrested, St. Paul police said they believe he's the person randomly assaulting people, but as of Wednesday nothing had been forwarded to the department for consideration of charges.

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