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Charges: Heroin-craving inmate escapes custody in Woodbury, grabs officer’s gun

A frantic scene on a Woodbury off-ramp involving an inmate attempting to break loose nearly ended in catastrophe last week.

According to court documents, the inmate, a St. Paul man who was being transferred to the Ramsey County workhouse, broke free from a transport van, then removed the gun holster from the pursing sheriff’s deputy.

The high-tension scene occurred Friday, Feb. 21, on the off-ramp at Interstate 494 and Lake Road.

No one was hurt in the incident, though a bystander assisted as the deputy wrestled the holster back away from the inmate.

“The potential for catastrophe was right there,” said Assistant Washington County Attorney Fred Fink.

The man, Rocky Dan Anderson III, was later charged with escaping from custody, disarming a peace officer and fourth-degree assault of an officer.

According to a criminal complaint:

The Anoka County Sheriff’s Department was transporting Anderson to the workhouse – located just across the Woodbury border on Century Avenue – on a felony theft warrant.

While stopped at the off-ramp, a handcuffed and leg-shackled Anderson escaped from the van and started running.

An Anoka County Sheriff’s Office deputy gave chase and caught him in the snow on the southeast corner of the intersection’s on-ramp.

The deputy attempted to secure Anderson, but the 21-year-old got his left hand free, eyed up the deputy’s gun and made a move for it.

The two men then wrestled for control of the gun. At one point, Anderson pulled the gun and its holster from the deputy’s belt.

The deputy was “in fear for his life at the point that defendant Anderson pulled his gun from his belt,” the complaint states.

Fink said the deputy was able to wrestle the gun back into his control before turning it over to a male who responded to assist.

That person played an instrumental role in bringing the situation to a peaceful end, Frink said.

“Thank heavens for citizens who are willing to step up and become involved,” he said. “Too often citizens shy away from that.”

The deputy sustained back and hand pain as a result of the incident, according to the complaint.

Afterward, Anderson admitted to escaping and attempting to run “because he was craving heroin,” the complaint states.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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