Crime, Law and Justice

Cops kill suspect in Cottage Grove after east metro carjackings, mayhem

A police officer stands near an incident scene.
A tent and police tape at the scene near Hidden Valley Trail South in Cottage Grove where police killed a man suspected in a Monday morning crime spree that included multiple carjackings and hostage taking.
Christine Nguyen | MPR News

Updated: 4:11 p.m.

An east metro crime spree that began when a man kidnapped, carjacked and sexually assaulted a woman he didn’t know spiraled into hostage taking and ended when officers shot and killed him in a confrontation in Cottage Grove, police say.

The incident began around 6 a.m. in Maplewood when the suspect carjacked and kidnapped a woman he did not know from the parking lot of the Ramsey County Care Center on White Bear Avenue, Maplewood authorities said.

The suspect took the woman to St. Paul where he sexually assaulted her, then stole a car and fled, according to St. Paul police, who said the the victim was later able to free herself and call 911. Using GPS technology in the car, they located the vehicle in Cottage Grove and notified police there.

At about 8:30 a.m., in the Hidden Valley neighborhood just east of U.S. Highway 61 and south of 70th Street, the suspect carjacked a Porsche SUV at gunpoint and fled at high speed.

Police later found the Porsche and began tracking him as he walked through the area -- at one point with a gun to his head -- then watched as he kicked in the door of a home on Hidden Valley Court around 9 a.m., taking a family of four temporarily hostage. The family was able to escape.

As police were setting up a perimeter around the house, the suspect stole the family pickup from the garage but quickly crashed and then fled on foot where officers from Cottage Grove and other jurisdictions confronted and shot him, Pete Koerner, Cottage Grove’s public safety director, told reporters.

The man has not yet been named. Officials offered no immediate explanation for what appear to be random and frightening crimes.

"Honestly, I can't imagine what the family's going through — either the one that was victimized by having his vehicle stolen or the family having an unknown person come to their house,” said Koerner.

A man speaks at a podium in front of a brick wall.
Pete Koerner, Cottage Grove's public safety director, briefs reporters on a man's Monday morning east metro crime spree that ended when officers killed him in Cottage Grove.
Christine Nguyen | MPR News

He said the suspect had a handgun, but Koerner did not say if the man threatened officers with it or fired at them.

Cottage Grove officers do not use body cameras but Koerner said there may be video from squad cams and body cameras from officers responding from other agencies.

One neighbor who lives near where the suspect held the family hostage said the suspect drove by in a black Porsche earlier in the morning, speeding and revving his engine as her children got on a school bus. Police arrived later and told everyone to get in their houses.

The neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said she heard police yelling commands at the man and then heard multiple shots.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the agency that typically investigates cases of police officers shooting people, has been called in, along with other agencies.

Aside from this case, law enforcement officers have shot and killed 10 people this year in Minnesota. There has never been a fatal police shooting in Cottage Grove, a suburb south of St. Paul, according to records kept by MPR News and retired FBI agent Larry Brubaker that go back as far as 1981.

This year’s fatal police shootings have been scattered across the state in different communities, including Albert Lea, St. Louis Park, Douglas County, Coon Rapids, St. Louis County, Eagan, Minneapolis, Brooklyn Center, Richfield and St. Paul.