Duluth police arrest suspect in stabbing of UMD football player

Police on Friday arrested a 23-year-old man on a warrant for second-degree assault in the August stabbing of a University of Minnesota Duluth football player in downtown Duluth.

Austin Sikorski
Austin Sikorski

Police on Friday arrested a 23-year-old man on a warrant for second-degree assault in the August stabbing of a University of Minnesota Duluth football player in downtown Duluth.

Xavier Devon Davis, 23, was arrested without incident around noon Friday at the corner of Canal Park Drive and Railroad Street, Duluth police said. A warrant was issued for his arrest on suspicion of stabbing UMD senior running back Austin Sikorski on Aug. 2.

Although no weapon was recovered, and there were no witnesses to the stabbing itself, police said numerous bystanders saw Davis and Sikorski engage in an argument and physical altercation outside the Flame Nightclub at the intersection of West Superior Street and North First Avenue West.

Responding officers reportedly found Sikorski, 22, lying on Superior Street with an open wound to his lower right abdomen and a large amount of blood coming from his nose and mouth area. Police said Sikorski was intoxicated and in pain, and was not able to communicate well.

He was taken to St. Luke’s hospital and underwent emergency surgery, which included removing a section of his small intestine.


Sikorski, who was named the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North Division Preseason Offensive Player of the Year after leading the Bulldogs in rushing in 2013, has since rejoined the team. He is not expected to play in tonight’s season opener.

Reached by the News Tribune at practice on Friday, Bulldogs coach Curt Weise said he had not heard about the arrest in the case, and declined to comment.

According to the criminal complaint:

Brooke Neuroth told officers that she accompanied Sikorski to the nightclub earlier in the evening. She stated that she left the bar and witnessed a verbal argument between Sikorski and his friends and several other men. Neuroth said she was physically holding Sikorski back and tried to disengage him from the argument.

One of the men then punched Sikorski in the face and people began running. The suspect was described by several witnesses as a black man in his 20s, with dreadlocked hair and darker skin.

An officer spoke with Nathan Zibolski, a teammate of Sikorski’s, who was present at the scene. Zibolski stated that he and Sikorski had been involved in a fight with several other men. Zibolski reported that he had been struck in the face at least twice. Zibolski said he saw Sikorski walk toward Superior Street, followed by the suspect.

Officers detained three men matching the physical descriptions given by witnesses. Zibolski positively identified one of the men, Davis, as the instigator and assailant in the confrontation.

Four days later, investigator Michael Tinsley of the violent crimes unit interviewed two female witnesses. One woman, Kayla Johnson, said she was going to give Sikorski a ride home when she saw him arguing with two men. After a minute or two, bouncers broke it up.


Everyone went outside, and the argument continued. One of the men challenged Sikorski to a fight, and punched him in the face, Johnson reported. Sikorski got up and ran southbound on First Avenue West, with the suspect running after him.

Johnson said she took off running and momentarily lost sight of him. She came around the corner and saw Sikorski with his back to the Allete Building on the lower side of Superior Street. The suspect had him up against the wall, and then took off running westbound. Sikorski was grabbing his side.

Tinsley interviewed other witnesses, who corroborated the story about the physical altercation outside the club. None witnessed the actual stabbing.

Tinsley took a statement from Davis on Aug. 19. Davis acknowledged being at the club the night of the incident and getting into a physical altercation outside. He admitted throwing the first punch, sparking a fight.

Davis stated that he was unaware of a stabbing and that he was not involved. He did not recall chasing Sikorski down the street, and stated that he was too intoxicated to remember everything. He said he did not know Sikorski or remember being near him.

Davis did not have a permanent address at the time of the incident, and his whereabouts were unknown. A warrant was issued for his arrest on Aug. 29.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or
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