COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. (FOX 9) - A father is charged with four felonies for allegedly attacking his children’s mother in Cottage Grove, Minnesota last Friday and abducting his 1-year-old and 3-year-old daughters, triggering an AMBER Alert.
At about 6:30 a.m. Friday, the Cottage Grove Police Department responded to a report that a man had taken his ex-girlfriend’s children and left in a minivan. Officers responded to the area, where they encountered a woman with a wound on her left cheek who was extremely distraught, according to the charges.
The complaint states that the victim said she had been in a relationship with the suspect, identified as Jeffrey Lo, 24, of Minneapolis, for five years, but the relationship had ended about three or four months earlier. She had full custody of their two children and an order of protection against Lo.
The order of protection allowed Lo to have visitation starting Saturday, June 8. Since her breakup with Lo, the victim said she had been staying with her parents in Cottage Grove.
At around 6:30 a.m., the victim told police she went to her minivan, which was parked in the driveway of her parents’ home, and put her children in the van so she could take them to daycare. She started to back out of the driveway, but then noticed Lo was hiding in the back of the van, the charges say.
Lo came to the front of the van, pushed the victim to the passenger side and struck her in the face with a pistol. He began driving the van. The victim tried to get out of the van, but Lo pulled her back inside. When she began yelling out the window, Lo stopped the van and let her out. He then sped away with the two children still inside.
The victim ran up to another vehicle on the road ad told the driver she needed help. The driver let her inside their vehicle and the two attempted to follow Lo, but lost him.
An AMBER Alert was issued for the two children. Dozens of officers from numerous agencies helped search for the children. Through numerous tips, police believed Lo had taken his daughters to a wooded area behind houses on the 7300 block of Hyde Avenue South in Cottage Grove.
Officers located the victim’s van parked in a driveway of a house on the block, but there was no one in the van.
Officers set up a perimeter around the area and learned that Lo had been seen around the 7100 block of Hidden Valley Lane. A helicopter search located Lo in the heavy underbrush. Officers on the ground found him lying on his back, holding both children to his chest.
The children were rescued and Lo was arrested at 10:27 a.m. The AMBER Alert was canceled.
Officers located a 21-round 9-millimeter magazine in the minivan loaded with 21 rounds.
In a statement to police, Lo said he had been in contact with his ex-girlfriend earlier in the week about seeing his children that weekend, but she stopped communicating with him. He went to her house on Thursday, but they got into an argument in the driveway and she drove away.
Lo said he knew the victim would be leaving around 6:20 a.m. on Friday to bring the girls to daycare. He told police he wanted to spend the day with the kids, so he parked his car nearby and walked to the victim’s house.
Additionally, Lo admitted he hid in the back of the van and waited until the victim got the children in the van and started backing down the driveway. He claimed he then made his presence known and asked the victim about spending the day with the girls. He claimed she slammed on the brakes, sending him flying to the front of the car. It made him angry, so he took out a clip loaded with bullets and hit her in the head with it.
He denied having a gun, claiming he only brought the magazine to scare the victim and show her how upset he was. He said he knew what he did was wrong and said “he became angry and his emotions took over and that’s why he did what he did that day,” the charges say.
Lo is charged with two counts of felony kidnapping with a dangerous weapon, felony assault with a dangerous weapon and violating an order for protection while possessing a dangerous weapon. He made his first court appearance on Monday. His bail was set at $750,000 without conditions or $500,000 with conditions.