Minneapolis police chief talks 'terrifying' weekend robbery spree after chase crash

A group suspected in an armed robbery in Minneapolis on Monday, who led officers on a chase ending with a crash into a bus shelter, may be linked to a weekend robbery spree, police say.

Police were searching for two vehicles, an SUV and a Kia sedan, following a reported robbery in the area of Garfield and Nicollet around 12:30 p.m.

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara says a short time later, officers spotted the vehicles along Lowry Avenue. Officers tried to make a stop which sparked a police chase that went on for several minutes. It ended when one of the suspect vehicles crashed into a bus shelter at Penn Avenue North and 13th Avenue North.

Two people were waiting for the bus at the time, but thankfully they were not injured in the crash.

O'Hara says officers were able to arrest three of the four people from the crashed vehicle but the other vehicle was able to get away. All the suspects appear to be teens.

Now, police are looking into whether the suspects are linked to a robbery spree over the weekend.

"This incident here today underscores a problem that we've had, we've seen over the weekend," said O'Hara. "Over this weekend, we had a robbery spree, driven by juveniles armed at gunpoint."

O'Hara says there were a total of 46 violent crimes reported in Minneapolis over the weekend, with 70 percent of the crimes being robberies.

"We believe from just this weekend, at least 14 of these robberies at gunpoint were committed by juveniles," added O'Hara. "So, we are not certain for sure if the suspects we have under arrest are also this part of the same crew that committed the robberies over the weekend. But, obviously, with the circumstances, with the M.O. being very similar, we suspect that may be the case."

Disturbing accounts following robbery reports

Sunday, police detailed a string of 14 robberies on Saturday across the city, all of which had similar circumstances: a group of suspects targeting individuals on foot.

Chief Brian O'Hara shared the disturbing circumstances of those robberies, speaking on Monday.

"I'm thankful that these arrests were made," O'Hara explained. "However, now, particularly since they're juveniles, we need the rest of the system to do their part to ensure that there is accountability over this. These robberies that have been happening are absolutely outrageous. One victim reported to the police this weekend that they heard a click from the gun, as if the gun, the trigger had been pulled when they were being robbed. It's absolutely terrifying."

In another case, O'Hara says: "Another victim was injured in their mouth because one of the suspects put the gun in their mouth and then injured them, taking it out while they were being robbed. So this behavior's absolutely outrageous, but we want the community to know the MPD is responding."

The investigation into the robbery cases is ongoing.