Photo: Hennepin County Jail
Photo: Hennepin County Jail

Tanker trucker accused of driving into Minneapolis protest crowd released from jail

Police have arrested a man they believe drove his tanker truck into a crowd of Minneapolis protesters Sunday. 

Bogdan Vechirko was booked into the Hennepin County Jail on Sunday, according to news station KSTP. He is accused of driving through the protesting crowd on Interstate 35 West in Minneapolis. As of Tuesday, he had been released from custody since state and highway officials don’t believe the act was intentional.


The thousands of demonstrators were gathering in protest of the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody May 25. Protesters have gathered in the city for several days.

»MORE: Family autopsy says Floyd died of asphyxia from neck, back compression

Video captured by CBS Minnesota shows a tanker truck apparently trying to plow through a large crowd of protesters on the interstate Sunday night. The footage revealed the person driving the truck was accelerating at a high rate of speed as protesters frantically tried to avoid the truck’s impact.  

The truck eventually slowed to a stop, and protesters began surrounding the truck and opening the driver and passenger doors. CBS Minnesota reported about 5,000 protesters were on the interstate at the time of the incident. Vechirko was taken to a local medical center with non-life-threatening injuries before being booked.

The interstate had been closed at 5 p.m. Sunday, so officials are investigating why the truck was on the road. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said Monday it doesn’t appear that Vechirko intentionally drove on the highway and tried to cause harm.

“The incident on I-35W on Sunday involving a semi that drove into protesters is still under investigation,” according to a Department of Public Safety statement. “DPS Commissioner John Harrington said the driver likely “saw the crowd & he panicked.”


 

Kenan Advantage Group, the trucking company Vechirko works for, issued a statement Sunday night saying it will cooperate fully with authorities as they investigate.

“Our hearts go out to all those who are grieving the events of this past week. We have been informed of an incident involving one of our independent contractors in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during recent protests. Our first and foremost concern is for the safety and security of the public, our employees and our customers. We will be cooperating fully with the investigating authorities in the days ahead.”

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