Fourth of July no holiday for SPD

The long Fourth of July weekend was no holiday for the Stillwater Police Department.

“It was as big as any crowd we’ve ever had here, and it was a busy weekend.” said Chief John Gannaway Tuesday.

Among the incidents reported were a bicyclist struck by a motorist apparently driving his friend’s car without a valid driver’s license, a man cited for DWI after his constant vehicle horn honking caught the attention of officers directing late-night Fourth of July traffic, a fight at a popular nightspot, the attempted theft of frozen treats from a local elementary school and the theft of an inflatable movie character from the Stillwater McDonald’s.

On the morning of July 4, 19-year-old Tyler James Vanhook was arrested on charges of fifth-degree controlled substance violation, felony level criminal vehicular operation, reckless driving, no Minnesota driver’s license and no insurance after the vehicle he was driving struck a bicyclist traveling legally on Owens Street at Mulberry Street.

According to witness statements, the 33-year-old female bicyclist from White Bear Lake was struck from behind, with Vanhook’s car swerving erratically and hitting an unoccupied car in the road after impact. The woman was reported to be awake and alert when officers arrived. Reports added that the victim did not move and advised officers of her possible injuries. She reported possible head trauma and side and back pain, with the impact from hitting the ground cracking her helmet.

Reports said when officers arrived, Vanhook had called the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, saying he had hit a woman, that he was sorry and wanted to make sure she was all right. He told officers he borrowed the car he was driving from a friend.

After his arrest, Vanhook allegedly admitted that he was traveling at 40 mph and prior to the crash, looked down and then hit the bicyclist. He added that he knew he should not have driven the car. A search of the car by officers found a plastic bag with three different pills in plain sight.

Police reports indicate that Vanhook has a history of driving without a license and has been cited in the past for driving-related violations.

The victim was taken to Region’s Hospital for treatment. On Monday, hospital spokesman Vince Rivard said that she was no longer a patient at the hospital.
Police requested that the case be sent to the Washington County Attorney’s Office for charges. The case is considered cleared by arrest and investigative follow-up has been requested.

Gannaway said that about 20 people from the department were out directing traffic last Thursday night. He added that clearing out traffic after the fireworks show went well overall.

During the course of clearing traffic, a Fridley man trying to leave the city after the fireworks show was arrested on a third-degree DWI charge after his horn-honking attracted the attention of officers directing traffic.

The man, identified in police reports as Ernest Conrad Albert, repeatedly honked his vehicle horn as officers directed traffic on Greeley and Pine streets. Albert allegedly continue honking his horn after another motorists asked him to stop.

Albert’s actions led officers to approach Albert’s vehicle and they observed two young children in the backseat and Albert’s girlfriend in the front seat, the report said. The officer allegedly smelled alcohol and asked Albert to get out of the car, according to the report.

Albert then failed several field sobriety tests and registered .15 on the breathalyzer test, the report said. Officers also discovered that Albert’s girlfriend also was over the legal BAC limit and had a revoked driver’s license, the report added.

Albert was booked and released while his girlfriend and the children were released to friends, the report said. Charges are pending based on results from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Officers also responded to a fight at the Freight House and a report of damage to property from a thrown object in the early hours of the morning of July 5.

Officers responding to the Freight House call shortly after midnight found one man had a injured lip and another man handcuffed to the restaurant stairs. Reports said the suspect told officers the victim punched him in the arm and he reacted by punching the man in the face, adding that he knew it was his fault but that “it was just what you do.” The suspect was cited.

Around 5:45 a.m. last Friday, officers responded to a report of windshield damage to a vehicle. The victim said he thought someone had thrown a rock at his windshield while he was driving on Neal Avenue and Eagle Ridge Trail. Whatever object was thrown left a 6- to 8-inch inch crack on the lower corner of the passenger side window.
The driver told officers that he didn’t see any individuals on or near Neal Avenue who might have thrown the object. Estimated cost of the damage is less than $500.

Officers responding to an alarm about 2 a.m. Thursday at Stonebridge Elementary School saw two suspects flee the building. Reports said at first one of the suspects ran at police wearing a black ski mask then turned, dropped something and ran away from the officers.

The dropped objects turned out to be frozen treats the suspect raided from the school freezer after breaking into the building. The case has been forwarded to investigations.

Sometime between 1 and 4 a.m. July 5, an inflatable minion character from the movie, ‘Despicable Me 2’ was reported taken from the south side of McDonald’s on Orleans Street.

The balloon character is eight feet tall and six feet wide, with blue coveralls, glasses and dark-colored work gloves and valued at $250. It is the property of McDonald’s corporate office and would have their name and location printed somewhere on the inflatable. The character was tied down and there are no suspects at this time.

Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]