A man and woman died in gunfire that erupted Friday morning after a high-speed police chase from Chaska to Eden Prairie.
The series of dramatic events that led to gunshots started during the morning rush hour and led to the shutdown of Hwy. 212 until 5 p.m. Friday. The stretch, between Hwy. 41 in Chaska and Dell Road in Eden Prairie, carries about 40,000 cars a day.
No law enforcement officers were hurt in the crash or subsequent gunfire along a freeway noise wall, but the man and woman in the car being chased were killed, authorities said, although they would not say who fired at whom. The state Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation.
Clarence Ramsey, who lives in the neighborhood south of Hwy. 212, was in his home office when he heard gunshots. “It was an irregular pattern — bam, bam, bam, then a pause, then a quick burst of shots,” he said.
Ramsey said he ran firing ranges in the Army and immediately recognized the sound of gunfire. “I had a grim feeling, because this is not hunting season,” he said. “It’s not the time of the year to hear gunshots. It was out of place … It’s not something we like to hear in Eden Prairie.”
About 7:30 a.m., authorities got a report that a red Saab was speeding east on Hwy. 212 in eastern Carver County, the State Patrol said. The Saab then rear-ended a vehicle driven by Sandra Bargmann at Hwy. 212 and County Road 43 and fled the scene with its front hood up.
Bargmann, 61, said Friday night that she was on her way from her Glencoe home to her job in Shakopee and never saw what hit her.
“I heard a thump on the back of the car and flew into the guardrail and spun around and hit the other one,” she said.
“Everything happened so fast. I didn’t even see the car go by me. I’m pretty conscious about keeping an eye on my rear view mirror, and I saw nobody. All of a sudden, boom! And that was it. Just like he fell out of the sky.”
Authorities spotted the car on eastbound 212.
The pursuit involved the State Patrol, Carver County sheriff’s deputies and Chaska police, reaching speeds of 80 to 90 miles or more per hour, authorities said. Officers farther down the road placed stop sticks on the highway just east of Audubon Road, puncturing at least two of the Saab’s tires.
The driver lost control and crashed into a noise wall between Hwy. 101 and Dell Road. The driver and another person — a man and a woman — emerged from the Saab, authorities said.
A struggle ensued and shots were fired, but the BCA declined to say more about what happened in those key moments. At 10:30 a.m., State Patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske confirmed that two people were dead. No officers were hit, he said.
A State Patrol trooper, two Chaska police officers and a Carver County sheriff’s deputy have been placed on standard administrative leave as the shootings are investigated.
The bodies of the dead, whose identities have not been released, were taken to the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office for autopsies. Roeske said it’s not clear what the man and woman’s relationship was, and he declined to elaborate on initial scanner reports of a hostage situation.
“This is a standard procedure for an officer-involved shooting,” he said of the lack of details in the hours after the incident.
The BCA said that it could take hours or days to interview the four officers involved in the shooting.
Bargmann said she still felt shocked Friday night, especially after learning the people whose car hit hers had been killed.
“Oh, I don’t want to go through anything like that ever again,” she said.
She was treated for bruises to her knee, hip and neck at Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia. She said she was wearing her seat belt.
“Honestly, I must have had angels looking out for me,” Bargmann said. “It could have been a whole lot worse. I’m just thankful that I’m alive.”