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Willmar, Minn., woman faces assault charges over alleged gang incident

Tamara Dawn Mendoza, 21, of Willmar, made her first court appearance Friday on felony second- and third-degree assault charges.

WILLMAR -- Tamara Dawn Mendoza, 21, of Willmar, made her first court appearance Friday on felony second- and third-degree assault charges for allegedly stabbing a teen in August after the two women had an escalating argument over a gang-related incident.

Unconditional bail was set at $25,000. Mendoza's next appearance is Dec. 3 in Kandiyohi County District Court.

According to the complaint, Willmar police officers arrested an 18-year-old Willmar woman on an arrest warrant Aug. 6. One of the officers noticed that the teen had an injury on her left thumb. The teen said she had also been stabbed in the side and the incident occurred Aug. 3.

After she had been booked into the jail, the teen told the officer that she and Mendoza had traded escalating threats since approximately two months prior, when the teen's younger brother was "jumped" by Mendoza and others for showing an opposing gang sign. The boy had his hat cocked to the left, a sign for the "People's Gang" affiliation. Mendoza and the others assaulted him after he refused to turn the hat straight or cock it to the right, a sign for the "Folk" gang, a part of the Gangster Disciple gang.

The teen said she had moved into a new residence on the southeast side of Willmar and noticed that Mendoza was staying at a neighboring home. The teen said the assault happened after Mendoza yelled gang words at her while she was inside her new home. The women fought, with Mendoza stabbing the teen and saying "you just got stabbed. ... I'll kill you."

The teen said Mendoza attempted to stab her in the chest and that she got cut on her left thumb attempting to block the knife. She did get cut on the chest. Friends at the scene took the teen away from Mendoza and to the hospital for stitches on her hand.

The officer noted wounds on the teen's thumb and the web of her left hand, plus slice wounds to her chest, side, leg and shoulder.

Mendoza was interviewed and said the teen had assaulted another person and that Mendoza had run away when the teen rushed at her. She said she had no idea how the teen got stabbed or that there was a knife involved in the incident.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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