2 men charged in robbery in St. Paul that ended in stolen Kia car chase

Two 20-year-old men have been charged after police say they were involved in a robbery at a St. Paul construction site before leading police on a chase in a stolen Kia.

Tony Kelly Jr. and Marcellus Johnson are both charged with robbery in the case after the attack on Tuesday, August 23. Police responded shortly before noon on that day for the report of a man who had been attacked by a group that had stolen items from his truck.

At the scene, the 61-year-old victim, who was part of a crew working on a building on Marshall Avenue near Fairview, told police he had spotted a group stealing items out of his truck. The victim said he confronted the group and pulled one of the thieves out of the truck. The victim says two people from a nearby Kia Soul got out at started attacking him.

The thieves stole the victim's iPhone 12 before driving away in the Kia, which witnesses said had Virginia plates. Police also learned the group had stolen various other items from other vehicles nearby.

Police later spotted the Kia Soul, sparking a police chase that officers say reached speeds of 100 mph on city streets. Officers used the Minnesota State Patrol helicopter to track the vehicle which ultimately hit a set of stop sticks deployed by police near Edgerton Street and Wheelock Parkway, bringing the chase to an end.

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Police say the Kia's ignition had been torn apart and officers used a screwdriver to turn off the vehicle. Officers later learned that the vehicle was a rental that was reported stolen that afternoon.

Kelly was arrested at Arcade Street and Sherwood Avenue after running from the vehicle. Johnson was found at a Holiday gas station. When he was arrested, police say he still had the iPhone belonging to the 61-year-old man.

Three others who were in the vehicle, including the driver, were also taken into custody. According to the charges, all three men agreed to speak with police. Two admitted to being in gangs, with one telling police the group was targeting construction vehicles because workers often leave keys and wallets inside unlocked vehicles, the charges detail.

According to the charges, Johnson initially denied getting out of the vehicle during the robbery of the 61-year-old man but later admitted he got out to get the man off his friend. Kelly reportedly admitted to dealing with the group

It's unclear what charges the other people in the vehicle might face.

Thefts of Kias have skyrocketed in recent months, with criminals increasingly using the vehicles in crime sprees. We're told there is an exploit that thieves are using that makes the vehicles easier to take than others.