MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Two St. Paul teenagers have been arrested and charged in connection to a spree of carjackings around the Twin Cities in early January, including an attempt outside of an Edina daycare last week.
Nautica Argue, 19, and Kashawn Wertman, 18, face 14 and 17 counts respectively, with charges ranging from simple robbery to aggravated first-degree robbery. They were charged in Hennepin County.
The criminal complaints detail a string of carjackings between Jan. 7 and Jan. 17 around the Twin Cities and 12 surrounding suburbs, including Brooklyn Center, Eagan, Lakeville, Little Canada, and St. Louis Park.
Argue and Wertman repeatedly approached victims and demanded their keys, at times pointing a gun at them, or telling them they would be shot, the complaints state.
Liz Ross, a neighborhood safety organizer in Edina, was relieved to learn the pair is in custody.
“A simple arrest is a tremendous deterrent,” she said. “I believe in [the police’s] ability to prosecute and find these guys, and so now, the real challenge is do we have judges that are willing to enact tougher sentences?”
Among the offenses detailed in the complaints was an attempted carjacking outside a daycare in Edina last week, which was thwarted by a former Minnesota Viking. Argue and Wertman allegedly demanded keys from a woman who was trying to pick up her child, but she was able to get away and the two suspects fled.
The co-owner of the daycare, who is the former Viking’s wife, said in a text to WCCO about the arrests:
“It’s a relief not just for us, but for anyone else who was victimized by these two, and for our entire community. That being said, we still think it’s important we all remain vigilant and aware of our surroundings at all times. We’re very grateful to our local law enforcement who were able to apprehend them before anyone else was harmed. No one should have to fear a trip to the grocery store, or worry about being a target of these senseless crimes…We have some peace of mind now.”
After an alleged carjacking in St. Louis Park on Jan. 12, Argue posted a photo to Facebook of her alongside Wertman, inside a stolen Nissan Rogue.
The two were arrested on Tuesday following a pursuit which ended on the 1700 block of Maryland Avenue in St. Paul. Wertman was driving an Audi, which he admitted he stole, and Argue was in the passenger seat. She had a key fob for a Nissan car in her jacket when she was arrested.
Wertman denied his involvement in any of the other robberies. Argue, on the other hand, admitted in a post-Miranda statement that she posted the photo to social media with Wertman, and she didn’t know whose Nissan she was in at the time.
Forensic evidence from the stolen vehicles is pending. According to the complaint, more charges are anticipated, as the investigation is ongoing and involves multiple agencies.
Aggravated robbery alone carries a maximum 20 year sentence, if convicted.