Man charged for death of passenger in St. Paul stolen vehicle crash

A man has been charged for the death of a passenger in a Tuesday night crash involving a stolen vehicle in St. Paul.

Michael Anthony Bruce, 31, faces two counts of criminal vehicular homicide, one count of fleeing a peace officer and one count of theft of a motor vehicle, court records show.

According to a criminal complaint, just after 2 a.m. on Tuesday, Minnesota State Patrol troopers clocked a silver sedan traveling at speeds between 76 mph and 86 mph on Interstate 94 eastbound near Pascal Street. The troopers ran a license plate check and found that the car had been reported stolen the previous day.

The car exited onto southbound Highway 61 and troopers tried to box it with their lights on, the complaint says. The vehicle started to drive "erratically, slowed, and nearly stopped," but then rammed into the back of a trooper’s squad. The car swerved and accelerated to 100 mph and troopers initiated a pursuit.

After about three miles, the car exited onto Bailey Road and failed to navigate a left turn at the top of the ramp, the complaint states, and the car struck a concrete wall while traveling 50 to 60 mph. Bruce, the driver, then got out and troopers handcuffed him.

Bruce told troopers he’d ingested heroin, the complaint states, and troopers saw that he was wearing clothes with the security tags still attached. He didn’t identify himself and officers suspected he was under the influence due to pinpoint pupils and his bloodshot eyes, the complaint says.

A 35-year-old woman in the front passenger seat had to be extricated from the car and troopers found suspected methamphetamine and heroin on her person, according to the complaint. She had multiple warrants out for her arrest.

The backseat passenger, 54-year-old Brenda Schaaf, of Robbinsdale, was found lying on her back and had difficulty breathing as well as back, neck and arm pain. She was also handcuffed.

All three were taken to Regions Hospital by emergency personnel, according to the State Patrol. The front-seat passenger and Bruce had non-life-threatening injuries. Neither of the passengers had been wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.

Upon searching the sedan, troopers found additional narcotics and drug paraphernalia, the complaint says, including needles with a brown tar-like substance and a small baggie containing something crystalline.

Bruce’s blood was drawn via warrant at the hospital, but the results are pending. The complaint notes that he was unconscious at the time of the blood draw.

Later Tuesday, troopers learned that Schaaf had died at the hospital from her injuries.

Bruce will make his first appearance in court Friday. Court records show that his bail is set at $200,000 and he remains in custody at the Ramsey County jail.