A chance encounter between two old acquaintances resulted in a claim that one of the men was following the other through Bloomington with a firearm, and ended with a 37-year-old man being arrested for driving a stolen vehicle.

The Bloomington Police Department received a report from the ex-wife of a 71-year-old Bloomington man. She called the police after he called her, saying that his friend was following him through west Bloomington, and had a gun. The woman reported that the suspect’s vehicle was a red Jeep Cherokee, and provided a license plate for the vehicle, according to Bloomington Police Cmdr. Damon Bitney.

Officers responding to the report at approximately 8 p.m. July 20 located the Jeep Cherokee near the intersection of 98th Street and Normandale Boulevard. As a police officer pulled up behind the vehicle, the Jeep pulled over before the officer initiated a traffic stop, Bitney noted.

The officer waited for additional officers to arrive at the scene before commencing a high-risk traffic stop, given the report that the Jeep’s driver had a firearm. The 37-year-old driver, who has no permanent address, complied with the traffic stop and was detained without incident, Bitney said.

As the suspect was being questioned about the report, a registration check of the vehicle showed that it had been reported stolen. The vehicle had been donated to a school for use in automotive repair training. The vehicle’s donor remained listed as its owner, and was contacted. He confirmed that he had donated the vehicle and said that it wasn’t intended to be used for personal transportation. He was asked about the ignition, and said that it was intact when he donated it, but officers found the ignition’s cylinder on the floor of the vehicle, according to Bitney.

A search of the Jeep following the suspect’s arrest for possession of a stolen vehicle turned up a variety of vehicle titles, credit cards that weren’t in his name, a tool that appeared to be an ignition punch, hypodermic needles and a pellet gun. A search of the suspect during booking turned up a case concealed in his underwear, which contained plastic bags with suspected methamphetamine. The suspect was booked on suspicion of auto theft, driving after revocation, fifth-degree drug possession and concealing a controlled substance at the police station, Bitney said.

Officers interviewed the Bloomington man at his home following the traffic stop. He said that the suspect was an old acquaintance that he encountered at Mystic Lake Casino. The suspect invited the man back to the Eden Prairie hotel where he was staying, but the men had to leave, as the suspect was allegedly evicted for not paying his hotel bill. In the parking lot the suspect claimed he had stolen the Jeep and had the gun on his lap. It was unclear what kind of gun it was. When the suspect pulled out a knife to start the Jeep, the man decided it was time for him to return home, Bitney explained.

The suspect said that he had been following the Bloomington man because he had some of the man’s possessions in his Jeep and wanted to give them back to him, Bitney added.

Attempted robberies

Two women reported attempted robberies minutes apart in the parking lot of Southtown Shopping Center.

Police officers were dispatched to the shopping center at approximately 12:30 p.m. July 20. A 73-year-old Edina woman reported that she had parked outside the Bed Bath & Beyond store and was loading merchandise from a curbside pick up into her trunk. She left the driver’s door open while loading the trunk, and upon closing the trunk she saw a man standing in front of the open car door, who demanded money from her. The woman did not see a weapon, and told the man she would not give him her cash. That was enough to deter the man, who walked away and entered a parked vehicle, Bitney said.

Before the officer left the scene, a 75-year-old Eden Prairie woman approached him and reported that she was approached by a similar man during the same time span as she parked her car near a shopping center entrance outside of the H&R Block office. The woman said she was able to shut and lock her car door as the man approached her. He then walked away, entering a small silver sedan, Bitney noted.

A report the following morning did not appear to be related to the Southtown incidents, but was equally unsuccessful.

A 41-year-old Plymouth woman reported that she had parked her vehicle in a ramp on the 8000 block of 34th Avenue and was walking up a stairwell to access a skyway. As she was doing so, a man ran past her and blocked her path. He grabbed her and told her to be quiet and give him her car keys. She refused, so the man began yelling at her and shaking her, demanding her keys and cellphone. At that point another man entered the stairwell and saw the woman being confronted. He asked her if she was okay, and the perpetrator ran down the stairs and into the parking ramp. The victim and witness called 911, but the suspect was not located, Bitney said.

Drug possession

A 31-year-old Waterville, Minnesota, man said that he was transferring his possessions from his work vehicle to his personal vehicle when questioned by a police officer, but when he didn’t like what they saw inside one of the vehicles, he took off on foot.

The brief chase began shortly after police officers were dispatched to the 9800 block of Emerson Avenue at approximately 11:15 p.m. July 20. A homeowner reported that the man had been sitting inside a parked vehicle for an extended period of time, and that neither he nor his vehicle looked familiar. An officer responding to the report found the man standing outside a parked vehicle and explained that he was transferring his possessions between the vehicles. He said he does driveway blacktop contracting and was staying with a friend who lives down the street, Bitney explained.

Although his story was a bit odd, it was the suspected marijuana an officer noticed sitting on the center console of one of the vehicles that created problems for the suspect. That prompted a search of the vehicle, and prompted the suspect to take off running. The chase quickly ended and the suspect was arrested, Bitney said.

The suspect dropped a piece of tinfoil with suspected heroin inside of it prior to running, and a search of his wallet turned up suspected heroin as well. He was also in possession of credit cards and checks that were not in his name, Bitney noted.

The suspect was booked on suspicion of fifth-degree drug possession, fleeing a police officer on foot, possession of stolen checks and possession of financial transaction cards.

Follow Bloomington community editor Mike Hanks on Twitter at @suncurrent and on Facebook at suncurrentcentral.

Copyright © 2020 at Sun Newspapers/ APG Media of East Central Minnesota. Digital dissemination of this content without prior written consent is a violation of federal law and may be subject to legal action.

Load comments