Update: Police investigating suspected homicide, fatal car chasePublished 12:44pm Friday, February 1, 2013
Initial report: Body found before 4 a.m. in yard near AHS, Pacelli
Police are investigating a suspected early morning homicide that occurred about a block from Austin High School and Pacelli Catholic Schools. A chase that began in Austin and ended in Waseca County when the driver of a 2001 Saab 93 died in a rollover is apparently connected to the homicide investigation.
Neither the apparent homicide victim or the Saab driver’s names had been released as of Friday morning, pending notification of relatives. The driver, 46, was reported to be an Oakdale, Minn., resident, and the homicide victim was a man.
A neighbor of the home where the suspected homicide occurred, at 510 Fourth St. NW, said she didn’t see or hear any violence, but woke to flashing police lights at 3:30 or 4 a.m. The neighbor said the home was used as an apartment for multiple residents.
According to the BCA, another neighbor called 911 shortly after 3 a.m. after hearing yells for help from the home. The caller also saw a body on the ground in front of the home and a tall man leaving the scene. Mower County Sheriff’s deputies and Austin police officers responded, and witnessed a red Saab leave the area at high speed, heading south on Fourth Street SW. Another officer saw a Saab run a red light and turn west on Oakland Avenue and out of town on County Road 46.
According to initial reports, other officers found a body in the front yard. The victim had suffered head trauma, was not breathing and had no pulse when police got there. A large tarp was still covering an area in the front yard as of 9 a.m.
Police were looking for a gun, according to reports.
Officers still had one block in front of the home on Fourth Street Northwest cordoned off at 9:30 a.m.
The State Patrol, and sheriff’s offices in Mower, Freeborn and Waseca counties assisted with the chase, which reached speeds of 130 mph and stretched for 50 miles. Stop sticks were deployed around 4 a.m. on Highway 13 north of Waseca, and those in pursuit backed off, according to the BCA.
The driver of the Saab later lost control of the vehicle, flipped into a field and was ejected, however; Waseca County Sheriff Brad Milbrath doesn’t believe the stop sticks caused the crash.
Austin High School officials were near the area Friday morning to help students who walk on Fourth Street Northwest get to school, but the scene was under control for several hours before students began arriving.
AHS Principal Brad Bergstrom said police notified school officials of a situation but the school was not in any danger.
Austin Police Chief Brian Krueger said officers checked on residents in the apartment where the suspected murder happened and made sure they were OK. He added there is no longer a threat to safety.
The BCA and Austin Police Department are leading the homicide investigation. The Minnesota State Patrol is investigating the chase and subsequent crash near Waseca.
—Matt Peterson and Sarah Stultz contributed to this report.