ELK RIVER, Minn. (WCCO) – Two men sit in the Sherburne County Jail charged with a brutal Elk River home invasion.
But the biggest threat came as 40-year-old Aaron Martin and 31-year-old Ryan Woehler sent police on a high-speed chase, going the wrong way on Interstate 94 near Rogers last Thursday.
Dozens of motorists and law enforcement officers were put at risk as the pursuit continued for nearly two miles. Authorities believed that the men had a kidnapping victim with them.
Four squad cars – two from Rogers Police and two from the Minnesota State Patrol – began the wrong-way chase, going west on the eastbound lanes of I-94.
One of those in pursuit was Rogers Police Chief Jeff Beahen.
“In my entire career, I have never pursued anyone the wrong way down a freeway before,” Beahen said.
He says the State Troopers were instrumental in getting motorists to pull over.
“Where these troopers were, these were the guys that were really the heroes,” Beahen said. “They were blocking and slowing everything down.”
Beahen says the initial report was that an Elk River home invasion victim was in the car.
“Kidnappings are extraordinarily rare. They don’t happen very often and they usually don’t have good outcomes. So our purpose is, if there’s a victim in this car, we have to get these individuals stopped,” he said.
For much of the chase, motorists stay glued in place on the sides of the interstate. But at times, the chase looked like a movie scene, with the suspect and squads weaving the wrong way through traffic.
The car finally exited the wrong way up an entrance ramp to County Road 81 and eventually clipped a truck, causing it to crash.
The suspects climb out, with the driver doing a belly flop in the snow as armed officers move in.
Chief Beahen says the driver scolded police while being handcuffed.
“He learned in prison that police officers were not allowed to chase people the wrong way in the freeway, and he was actually upset with us because we chased him and took him into custody,” Beahen said. “He said ‘You can’t do that.'”
It turns out there never was a kidnap victim. The home-invasion victim had fled and hid at a neighbor’s house.
The two men are still in custody, charged with robbery, burglary and assault. They will likely face fleeing charges soon.
Both the State Patrol and Rogers Police say it’s incredibly fortunate that no one was hurt in the dramatic chase.