FOREST LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) — After 16 hours on the run — in at least four stolen vehicles — a Wisconsin boy is now behind bars.

Early Tuesday morning, Wisconsin authorities put out a warning seeking the public’s help locating an armed 14-year-old, Cole Laird.

At several points along his alleged crime spree, the teen led police on a high speed chase, ditching his stolen vehicle, only to steal away in yet another one.

It all started late Monday afternoon, 30 miles west of Eau Claire, in the rolling countryside of Woodville, Wis. An Amish family was doing evening chores on their farm.

That’s when neighbors say Laird, pointing his handgun, scarf over his face, confronted a woman and her daughter while they were tending to their chickens.

“Right down where that red truck is coming out,” said Warren Larson on Tuesday, as he pointed to the farm.

Larson had just stopped by the Hilltop Bar, a short distance from the farm, when the woman’s son came breathless up the hill asking for help. People inside the Hilltop immediately called police.

“He came into the Hilltop and hollered to call 911 and that there was a guy with a weapon down at their place,” Larson said. “More cops came and there was a lot of artillery sitting around.”

However, before police arrived at the farm, Laird sped away, through nearby New Richmond at a high rate of speed while heading north.

After ditching his second stolen vehicle in a cornfield close to the Polk and St. Croix county line, Laird stole a van that was parked in a farm driveway.

“They had the dogs go through the yard, they had tracked him along the side of our house,” said Shari Erdman, whose father owned the van.

Laird apparently drove the van just a couple of miles up the road when he turned into a remote driveway leading to a hunting shack. Police thought they had him trapped in the small cabin around nightfall and even at one point fired off some teargas to force him into the open.

Once again, the boy was able to slip away on foot through cornfields and woods.

His last desperate attempt to get away led him north to State Highway 8, where witnesses say he stole his fourth vehicle, a pickup truck, from a shopping center parking lot.

Then at 6:20 a.m. Tuesday morning, an alert Centennial Lakes police officer spotted Laird, initiating the final chase along Interstate 35 and onto Highway 97. Laird’s run came to a violent end when he lost control of the truck and rolled the vehicle five times outside a Forest Lake daycare.

The 14-year-old was taken to a local hospital for observation but was not seriously injured.

He was booked into an Anoka County juvenile facility awaiting proceedings and likely extradition back to Wisconsin.

Bill Hudson

Comments