'Ultimate Fighting Fighter' Faces Charges Following Pepper Spray Assault in Lilydale
The suspect was recognized by bar staff when he returned nearly three months later.
A St. Paul man has been charged with assault after police say he pepper-sprayed a woman at a Lilydale bar late last year and boasted to her companion that he was an “ultimate fighting fighter.”
Daniel Jeramiah Neal, 27, faces a felony charge of third-degree assault and a misdemeanor charge of fifth-degree assault in the incident. The maximum penalty for the felony count is five years in prison and a $10,000 fine; the misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
According to the complaint against Neal, filed in Dakota County District Court in Hastings, the victim and her male friend had left the Moose Country in Lilydale about 2:30 a.m. last Dec. 11. The woman waited in the front passenger seat while her friend brushed snow off the car.
The woman told police that she heard her friend talking to a man, who came to her side of the car and knocked on the window. When she rolled it down, Neal pepper-sprayed her in the face, according to the complaint.
The victim said it took about 20 seconds for her to feel the effects of the spray, but eventually her face began to burn, her eyes watered and she was having trouble breathing. She said she got out of the car and asked Neal why he’d sprayed her, at which point Neal left, with her friend following him. Neal eventually climbed into a waiting taxi and left the bar.
The woman’s friend told police that he was brushing off the car when Neal approached and asked if he needed help with his “girlfriend.” He told Neal that she wasn’t his girlfriend, and he said Neal began telling him that he was an “ultimate fighting fighter” and that his name was Daniel Steel.
According to the complaint, when the man asked Neal for his real name, Neal continued repeating, “Daniel Steel! Just remember Daniel Steel!”
After Neal pepper-sprayed the woman, the complaint says, the man followed Neal and the two had a “physical altercation” in a nearby parking lot before Neal left in a cab.
Police contacted employees of the Moose Bar, who promised to contact them if Neal showed up again. On March 9, one of the bar’s employees called police and told them he was there.
Neal subsequently admitted to police that he was involved in the December incident, but said he approached the vehicle because he thought the man and woman were fighting. He also admitted to using pepper spray, but said he sprayed it at the man because he was coming toward him.
“When confronted with parts of his story that were inconsistent, Neal reported that he was drinking that night and taking body-building supplements, which he believes made it difficult for him to remember what happened that night,” the complaint says.
Mendota Heights Police Chief Mike Aschenbrener said Wednesday that it took some time to charge Neal because police didn’t know who he was until he returned to Moose Country.
“It took awhile to figure out who he was,” Aschenbrener said. “We charged him a few days after we identified him as a suspect.”
Aschenbrener said Mendota Heights police don’t have more than the usual number of problems with incidents at the Moose Country. “But it’s a bar,” he said. “Let’s leave it at that.”