International Falls kidnapping prompts 60-mile chase in northern Minnesota

A kidnapping in International Falls, Minnesota prompted a high-speed chase across the northern part of the state Tuesday. 

According to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, the International Falls Police Department received a report of a kidnapping that occurred shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday on the 1400 block of Highway 11-71. A woman had been forced into a van by a man with whom she had a prior relationship. 

Law enforcement agencies from across the region began a search for the suspect vehicle.  

At 8:30 p.m., sheriff’s deputies located a vehicle matching the description heading south on Minnesota Highway 53 near Kabetogema Lake and initiated a pursuit, which reached speeds of up to 80 mph at times. 

At one point, deputies deployed stop sticks, which damaged the van’s wheels, but did not end the chase. Eventually, the van pulled into the parking lot of a motel off Hwy. 53 in Orr. The suspect waved a gun outside the van as he drove. 

The van eventually stopped, and law enforcement surrounded the van. The kidnapping victim got out of the van and fled into the nearby woods. Law enforcement located her a short time later and took her to a nearby clinic to be evaluated. 

The sheriff’s office said as the victim fled the van, authorities heard a single gunshot from inside the vehicle. They found the suspect with what appeared to be a life-threatening, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was airlifted to a hospital in Duluth. 

The incident remains under investigation.