Early Sunday morning, a state trooper noticed a Honda Accord just north of downtown Minneapolis weaving on I-94 and decided to pull it over.
When he hit the lights, the car immediately roared ahead. The driver, 29-year-old Rufus Onel Victor, flew off the freeway and made a hard right down Washington Ave., toward a Chevy Caprice carrying Amanda Jean Thomas, her 12-year-old boy, Andre, and her three-month-old son, Averon.[jump]
While blowing through a red light -- one witness thought he was going 90 mph -- Victor broadsided Thomas's car, which slammed into a parked car and jumped up onto the sidewalk, crushing the family inside.
Victor hopped out of the wreckage and fled on foot, without bothering with Thomas or her two sons. The trooper stopped the chase to go to Thomas, but it was too late. Both Thomas and Andre died there, while baby Averon hung on until he died at the hospital. The chase lasted barely a minute.
A police dog was used to catch Victor a short time later.
View Larger Map The intersection where Thomas and Victor collided.
Victor, it turned out, was driving a stolen car. Lt. Eric Roeske says the arresting officers drew blood from Victor to determine if he was intoxicated, and the results won't be ready for a few weeks. Victor has a very long rap sheet, including multiple convictions for theft and receiving a stolen gun.
Some have asked whether the trooper was following Victor too aggressively, but Roeske says he was a full three blocks behind Victor when the fatal crash happened.
"It wasn't a situation where the trooper was right on top of him," he says. "The trooper continually lost ground to him because he simply wasn't willing to drive in as reckless and as careless a manner as the guy who was driving."