MINNEAPOLIS (AP/WCCO) — A woman was killed and three others hurt after an SUV plowed into a group of protesters Sunday night in Uptown.
The Minneapolis Police Department said the suspect was pulled from his vehicle by protestors after the 11:39 p.m. crash and is now in custody and being treated for injuries at a hospital. An Instagram video shot by protesters shows the man being pulled from the SUV and held by protesters until officers arrived to take him into custody.
The man’s motive was not immediately known. According to investigators, preliminary information suggests that drugs and alcohol could have played a role.
Hennepin County Jail roster records show that a 35-year-old St. Paul man was arrested early Monday in Minneapolis on suspicion of criminal vehicular homicide, driving after having his license suspended, and giving false information to police. The man does not have a valid license as a result of multiple DUI offenses.
Minneapolis police say they are not releasing the name of the driver, citing investigative purposes. WCCO-TV does not typically name suspects until they’ve been officially charged with a crime.
The crash happened at the intersection of West Lake Street and Girard Avenue South. The SUV was travelling east on Lake Street when it slammed into a group of protesters. Emergency crews brought two injured protesters to Hennepin Healthcare for treatment. Two others later sought medical attention for non-life-threatening injuries at area hospitals.
A woman, who was critically injured in the crash, died from her injuries. Relatives identified her as 31-year-old Deona Knajdek.
Her brother said he saw video of the crash that showed the SUV slamming into Knajdek’s car before hitting protesters. Knajdek was using her car to block the intersection to protect the protesters as they demonstrated.
Garrett Knajdek said that his sister worked with people struggling with mental health and addiction. Wednesday would have marked her 32nd birthday.
“This last year, she finally started to blossom and be an adult,” said Garrett Knajdek, in a phone interview with WCCO-TV. “She was doing good. She had two daughters that she was finally getting back in touch with…building strength. This just…took her away.”
A march in Deona Knajdek’s honor is slated for Monday evening in Minneapolis. Organizers say they will advocate for laws to protect protesters and harsh sentences for those who drive into them. “Deona Marie, you are a change agent,” organizers wrote in a Facebook event post. “Rest in love and power!”
Early Monday morning, someone fired a gun near the scene of the crash in an apparent attempt to keep motorists away from the intersection. Police responded and arrested that person, who was also throwing objects at drivers. A handful of other people were also at the scene shortly after sunrise, trying to block the intersection from motorists on their morning commute.
There have been ongoing protests in Uptown after the June 3 shooting of Winston Boogie Smith Jr., a 32-year-old father of three.
Authorities have said Smith, a Black man who was wanted on a weapons violation, fired a gun before deputies fatally shot him in Minneapolis, a city on edge since George Floyd’s death more than a year ago under an officer’s knee and the more recent fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright in a nearby suburb.
Members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force were trying to arrest Smith on a warrant for allegedly being a felon in possession of a gun, authorities said. The Marshals Service said in a statement that Smith, who was in a parked vehicle, didn’t comply with law enforcement and “produced a handgun resulting in task force members firing upon the subject.”
Smith died at the scene. State investigators said Smith’s passenger, a 27-year-old woman, was treated for injuries from glass debris.
After Smith’s shooting, some people vandalized buildings and stole from area businesses, police said. Nine people were arrested on possible charges including suspicion of riot, assault, arson and damage to property. Graffiti reading “Mpls still hates cops” and “No trial for them” marked the building next to the parking ramp where Smith was shot.
There has been tension between police and residents since the deaths of Floyd, a Black man who died last year after he was pinned to the ground by Minneapolis officers, and Wright, a Black motorist who was fatally shot in April by an officer in the nearby suburb of Brooklyn Center.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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Source: CBS Minnesota