By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A prisoner is back behind bars after an intense manhunt that lasted nearly five hours across the Twin Cities.

Video from Sky4 captured the takedown on Interstate 35-W at 8th Street in Minneapolis. Several police officers pinned down James Mitchell. He was on the run since 11:30 Friday morning.

Police say Mitchell hijacked a van carrying eight other inmates at the Lino Lakes prison after being transported from St. Cloud. At some point, Mitchell ditched the van in North Minneapolis. Authorities eventually caught him running along 35-W around 4:30 Friday afternoon.

After Mitchell stole the van, he dropped off five of the inmates in Mounds View. Later, a report of the abandoned van in a north Minneapolis neighborhood prompted a lockdown.

Tony Robinson found the van parked in his spot. Three offenders still inside asked him to call 911.

“I seen three guys in there, and I was like, ‘Is everything alright?'” Robinson said. “They said ‘No, dude stole the van and he just got out and left us here.'”

Robinson says the men told him they didn’t want to get in trouble so they stayed shackled inside, even though keys to freedom were within reach. They also told him how the escape unfolded.

“The transporting officer left the van running when they went to go drop some other people off,” Robinson said. “There was a cuff key and they have a lock that goes over the handcuffs, and there’s a pad lock to it. He left both keys sitting on his seat, dude reached through what was like a little sally port window — reached through there, grabbed the keys, unlocked his locks, unlocked his handcuffs, hopped in the drivers seat and took off.”

James Mitchell was on foot when police caught up with him. He reportedly told a passerby he “just wanted one last day.”

He was taken to HCMC to be checked out and then to a maximum security prison. The Department of Corrections said it is still looking into how the incident unfolded.


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