An Austin Police Department car is parked this morning in front of the site of a suspected crime. -- Jason Schoonover/Albert Lea Tribune

Suspected homicide, then chase

Published 6:28am Saturday, February 2, 2013

A suspected homicide in Austin is connected to a police chase early this morning through Mower, Freeborn and Waseca counties.

A 46-year-old Oakdale man who led the chase died in a rollover in Waseca County, according to the Minnesota State Patrol. The crash, according to the State Patrol, was at 4:03 a.m.

He had been pursued by law enforcement officers from Freeborn County, among other agencies. He drove a 2001 Saab 9-3. Pending notification of next of kin, no name has been released. Officials were on scene investigating the incident on Minnesota Highway 13.

Law enforcement investigators comb the scene of a one-car crash on Highway 13 south of Waseca Friday morning. The crash, which killed the driver, a 46-year-old Oakdale man, was the culmination of a chase that began in Mower County, went through Freeborn County, and ended in Waseca County. Police in Austin have said there is a connection between the chase and a suspected homicide in that city. — Julie Frazier/Waseca County News

Police have been posted at a house at 510 Fourth St. NW in Austin this morning. Law enforcement said the chase occurred immediately following a suspected homicide at that address.

A neighbor of the home 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, police found a body in the front yard of the home before 4 a.m. today. The victim, a man, suffered head trauma, was not breathing and had no pulse when police arrived. A large tarp was still covering an area of the front yard as of 9 a.m.

Police were looking for a gun, according to reports.

According to the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office, Austin police and Mower County sheriff’s deputies entered Freeborn County in Moscow Township on County Road 25. Freeborn County deputies joined the pursuit. The driver ended up at Clarks Grove and went west on County 31, turned north on County 20, then west on County 35 before heading north on Highway 13. Freeborn County deputies stopped chasing south of New Richland when Waseca County deputies engaged. The State Patrol and Waseca police also were part of the chase.

The chase reached speeds of more than 130 mph before the fatal rollover on Highway 13. State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said the driver was thrown from the vehicle.

Waseca County Sheriff Brad Milbrath said the departments laid stop sticks in the road but did not think those were the cause of the rollover crash.

Austin Police officer Ryan Leif walks in front of a cordoned off home along Fourth Street NW in Austin Thursday morning. -- Eric Johnson/Albert Lea Tribune

The Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the pursuit was tied to a suspected homicide in Austin. The home is about a block from Austin High School and Pacelli Catholic Schools.

The Tribune will have updates online as they become available.