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Tanker truck drives through crowd of protesters on I-35W bridge, officials say doesn't appear to be intentional

KSTP
Updated: June 02, 2020 01:28 PM
Created: May 31, 2020 03:59 PM

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Monday, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has learned a truck driver who was arrested after he drove through a crowd protesting on I-35W in Minneapolis is being held on probable cause assault.

Bogdan Vechirko was booked into Hennepin County Jail Sunday. As of Monday morning, he was not formally charged.

Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said Monday that it doesn't appear that Vechirko intentionally drove on the highway and tried to cause harm.

Harrington said the driver likely "saw the car and panicked." 

You can listen to their full comments here.

The following are updates that took place Sunday:

9:22 p.m.

Authorities have identified a truck driver who was arrested after he drove through a crowd protesting on I-35W in Minneapolis as Bogdan Vechirko. 

Vechirko has been booked in the Hennepin County Jail.  

Sunday night, Ken Advantage, the trucking company Vechirko is an independent contractor for, issued a statement. 

"Our hearts go out to all those who are grieving the events of this past week," part of the statement read. 

The company said it will be cooperating fully with the investigation. 

Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell, who was speaking on behalf of DPS, said investigators have spoken with the driver. Schnell said investigators will forward any potential charges to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office. 

8:27 p.m.

The Minnesota State Patrol and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are now opening a criminal investigation into the incident involving a semi-truck that drove through a crowd of protesters Sunday afternoon on the Interstate 35W bridge.

7:56 p.m.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety stated that state troopers are working to clear the area of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis between Washington and University avenues. Law enforcement may use tear gas to clear people out of the way, DPS said.

7:19 p.m.

Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington says he can't confirm how the driver suffered injuries. Harrington reports the driver has been released from medical care and is in police custody. 

6:36 p.m.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says a truck driver has been arrested after it drove into a crowded protest on I-35W in Minneapolis. 

DPS says the driver suffered injuries that were not considered life-threatening and was taken to the hospital. 

DPS added that it does not appear that any protesters were hit by the truck. 

The Minneapolis Police Department says it is supporting the State Patrol in its response to the incident. The department is asking protesters to clear the scene and surrounding streets so emergency personnel are able to access those who may have been injured. 

DPS says it is working with MnDOT to determine how the semi got onto I-35W. 

5:48 p.m.

As protesters took to I-35W in Minneapolis, a semi-truck was seen driving into the crowd.

MnDOT traffic camera video captured the crowd scatter right before the vehicle came. The semi appeared to be hauling some sort of fuel. 

It is unclear if anyone was injured. 

After the truck came to a stop, people swarmed the cab. 

5:24 p.m.

Marchers have turned east on University Avenue from Lexington Parkway in St. Paul. Drivers are asked to avoid the area.

5:08 p.m.

The protesters have now exited onto Lexington Parkway and are headed north. According to St. Paul police, approximately 1,500 people comprise the group.

4:11 p.m.

The peaceful protesters are now marching westbound on Interstate 94. They entered the interstate at Marion Street and are now near the Dale Street exit.

Police and armored vehicles were seen on I-94 behind the group of protesters to redirect traffic. According to the St. Paul Police Department, the marchers intend to keep moving west, and motorists are asked to avoid I-94 in both directions.

A peaceful rally demanding justice for George Floyd took place Sunday afternoon at the Capitol in St. Paul. KSTP reporter Jay Kolls was on the scene and will have more at 5:30 p.m. on 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

The St. Paul Police Department issued an alert about a large group marching west on University Avenue in St. Paul near the Capitol. The marchers are "organized and peaceful," police said.

The group is now headed south on Marion Street, according to police.

 


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