UPDATE: Suspect in shooting left suicide note
The 27-year-old man who was shot by police Wednesday night in Hastings left a suicide note at the home of relatives before stealing their car and leading police on a chase through Hastings.
Roman Urevich Tokarev left a suicide note at the Elk River, Minn., home of his sister and brother-in-law. They discovered the note before noticing Tokarev had stolen their car and called then police.
"There was a note left that basically said he would not be taken alive and that he'd go out in a blaze of glory," said Andy Skoogman, spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Tokarev was shot multiple times by law enforcement officers and was transported to Regions Hospital in St. Paul by Hastings ambulance. The extent of his injuries is unknown at this time. He was still alive as of Wednesday night.
Tokarev had been on intensive supervised release through the Minnesota Department of Corrections since being released from prison in May for a 2005 aggravated robbery conviction in Hennepin County. He has other convictions for theft, driving while impaired and theft of a motor vehicle dating back to 2001. The release program provides supervision to high-risk offenders as they transition back into the community from prison. He was to have been on the program until May 2011.
Tokarev was on house arrest as part of the release program, but had earned his way off electronic monitoring by obtaining and maintaining employment, according to Shari Burt, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections.As part of the release program, he was visited two times per week by a supervising agent from the Department of Corrections. The last visit from his agent was on Nov. 29, Burt said.
On Wednesday afternoon, law enforcement officers received a report that Tokarev had stolen a vehicle, a tan Chevrolet truck, from a relative's home in Elk River, Minn. The relative who made the report said Tokarev was suicidal, possibly armed and noted his threats toward law enforcement officers in his suicide note. Upon the report of the theft, a felony warrant was issued for Tokarev's arrest.
A Dakota County Sheriff's deputy spotted the vehicle near Highway 316 and Vermillion Street and attempted to stop it. The vehicle didn't stop, and near Vermillion and 12th streets, officers tried a "box maneuver," where squad cars attempt to box in a vehicle. The suspect then rammed the law enforcement vehicles with the truck in an attempt to escape and pointed a handgun at officers. At that time, officers fired shots at Tokarev's vehicle, but it is unknown at this time whether Tokarev returned fire.
"When someone uses their vehicle, ramming another car, that is the use of deadly force, and in addition, he also pointed a handgun," Bellows said. "Clearly he presented a deadly force situation to officers."
Tokarev got the vehicle out of the box, and led police on a chase through residential areas of Hastings.
Chris Green was at a friend's house on West Fourth and Eddy streets when he heard sirens approaching. He said he looked out just in time to see the truck speed by and saw squad cars chasing it. Green said the truck could have easily been going 60 mph.
"He came by in a flash," Green said.
Tokarev was eastbound on West Fourth Street approaching Vermillion Street when an officer performed a PIT maneuver, which caused Tokarev's vehicle to spin out, and other squad cars then boxed the vehicle in.
Tokarev tried again to ram the squad cars out of his way to escape and that's when officers shot at him a second time.
Officers didn't know if he'd been shot and gave him an order to step out of the vehicle. When he didn't exit the truck, they tried shooting non-lethal beanbag rounds and deployed their Tazers, hoping to effect an arrest.
"I think they used great restraint at that point," Bellows said.
He did not exit the vehicle and officers, and then approached the vehicle and found he'd been shot.
A handgun was found in Tokarev's vehicle, but it is unknown if he ever fired shots at the officers, or whether the gun was loaded.
The officers involved in the shooting were placed on paid administrative leave following the incident, which is normal procedure after a shooting.
The officers who fired lethal rounds are Hastings Patrol Officer Amber Wiech, Dave Schiebel of the Department of Corrections, and Dakota County Sheriff's Deputy Matthew Schuster. Dakota County Sheriff's Deputy Tim Gonder and Sgt. Scott Durdall of the Dakota County Sheriff's Department fired non-lethal rounds.
In addition to the Hastings Police Department and the Dakota County Sheriff's Office, officers from the Department of Corrections' Fugitive Apprehension Unit and the U.S. Marshal's East Metro Task Force were involved in the incident.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was on the scene investigating Thursday morning. Bellows said the case is complicated because there were three law enforcement agencies involved and two scenes where shots were fired.
"This is an unusual one," Bellows said. "I have 30 years in law enforcement and I've been at the scene of many officer-involved shootings and I can't say I've been to one anything like this, where you have two different shooting locations and three agencies involved," Bellows said. "This is a complex case. This is not an easy one to investigate. This is going to take some time."
It is unknown what charges Tokarev could face if he survives his injuries.
"They'll look at the events of this case and they're going to make charging decisions, but, if you're asking me, I think that his actions constituted deadly threats against police officers and (Dakota County Attorney James) Backstrom will make that decision off the events and the facts of the case," Bellows said.
The intersection of Vermillion and Fourth streets and Vermillion Street between 15th Street and Highway 55 were closed to traffic following the incident and remained closed until shortly after 7 a.m. Thursday morning.
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