Ramsey Co. official concerned about the bail for man accused of causing $500K of damage to store
A Christmas morning crash, and the 40-mile-per-hour ride before it, left a path of destruction at Tousley Motorsports in Vadnais Heights.
“He literally drove a side-by-side through the garage doors,” says Jon Osowski, a store spokesperson. “Never had anything like this happen before.”
30-year-old Austin Erickson is accused in that Christmas morning break-in, which caused up to $500,000 in damages.
“I was just astounded by his brazen damage to everything he came into contact with,” declares Undersheriff Mike Martin, of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office. “His willingness to almost run over one of our deputies, and then flee from us.”
Ramsey County court documents say around 6:20 a.m. on Christmas morning, deputies responded to a glass break alarm at the store.
A probable cause statement says the arriving deputies spotted a person inside on security cameras — and that the suspect was crashing a stolen ATV into merchandise and fixtures inside the store.
At one point, the papers say Erickson drove directly toward a deputy on the scene.
The statement says in a post-Miranda interview, the 30-year-old said he had been accompanied by a friend and used a trailer hitch to break inside the business.
It goes on to say Erickson says his friend talked him into doing the burglary and thefts.
The court papers say deputies captured Erickson after he ran away into a nearby wooded area.
He now faces felony burglary, property damage and vehicle theft charges.
The court documents show prosecutors requested $200,000 in bail as a condition of Erickson’s release.
Instead — a judge set Erickson’s bail at $500 cash.
“This is someone who is not a stranger to the criminal justice system,” Martin says. “And we just disagree with the decision.”
Court records show Erickson has a criminal history dating back to 2011.
He’s been convicted on felony assault and weapons charges, and misdemeanor drug charges.
At last check, Erickson remains in custody at the Ramsey County Jail.
The Tousley team says they met with insurance adjusters on Wednesday and that they’re grateful nobody was hurt.
Osowski says he hopes to reopen the store soon.
Martin says judges typically have wide discretion in setting bail and that reductions aren’t necessarily unusual.
But he says he fears the low bail amount in this case sends a bad message.
“I thought, this is why people don’t trust the criminal justice system, why they’ve lost faith,” Martin says. “We think this is someone who should have a message sent to them, by setting a bail that’s going to keep them in custody so they can be held accountable.”