Police: Mankato hit-and-run started as fight over drugs

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21-year-old Juan Carlos Lamas rammed his car into a group of people in Mankato over a drug dispute, police say.

A fight over drugs ended with a man deliberately driving into a group of people in the southern Minnesota city of Mankato, injuring six, police said Monday.

Cmdr. Dan Schisel said charges are expected Tuesday against Juan Carlos Lamas Jr., 21, of Shakopee, Minnesota, who's accused of driving a Cadillac CTS sedan into the group early Sunday. The charges are likely to include driving while intoxicated, fleeing police and criminal vehicular operation, he said.

Investigators were still trying Monday to nail down the details of what happened, but a fight over drugs in an apartment where several people had gathered preceded the attack in a nearby parking lot, the commander said. He wasn't sure what drugs were involved. The dispute spilled outside, and one person told police he had been struck in the back by a BB or pellet, he said.

A Mankato police officer who happened to be driving by saw the commotion, radioed for assistance and stopped to help the injured people.

Lamas' car also struck two parked cars when it hit the victims, Schisel said. A tire and rim fell off his car as he fled, and he was later stopped by a Blue Earth County deputy who saw sparks coming from the car. Lamas was "less than cooperative" but other deputies soon arrived and helped arrest him, the commander said.

Two 18-year-old victims with injuries that Schisel described as "severe" were flown to St. Marys Hospital in Rochester. They were listed in fair condition Monday, hospital spokeswoman Emily DeBoom said. Two less seriously injured people were taken to a Mankato hospital. Schisel said none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening.

Jaci Batson, mother of Alec Joseph Batson of Mankato, told the Mankato Free Press that one of her son's legs was crushed. Batson, a freshman at Minnesota State University, was one of the victims airlifted to Rochester. He has undergone one surgery and likely will need several more surgeries, his mother said. She said her son does not remember much about the incident but told her he does not know Lamas.

Donovan J. Hall of Robbinsdale, who was taken to the Mankato hospital, also told the newspaper that he does not know the suspect. Hall said he was walking to his car when he was struck. He said Lamas appeared to be "trying to hurt as many people as he could." Hall suffered a broken leg, a broken wrist and a gash on his knee that required 13 stitches.

The commander said he didn't know if Lamas has an attorney who could comment on his behalf.