UPDATE: Car theft suspect was high, fled hospital, court documents say
The man who brought traffic on Interstate 94 to a standstill Saturday was high on drugs when he fled the Douglas County emergency room before stealing two cars, according to court documents.
According to a criminal complaint, Alexandria police officers responded to Dairy Queen south on Saturday, March 18, after getting a call about a suspicious man, later identified as Brett Huber, 25, acting as if he were on drugs. When officers arrived, Huber had left the restaurant and was running north. A woman entered Dairy Queen shortly after, saying Huber had run from the Douglas County emergency room because they were trying to get him to go to detox.
About the same time, the Alexandria Police Department received a report of a 2009 Chevrolet HHR stolen from NAPA Auto Parts in Alexandria. NAPA had received a call of a company vehicle driving recklessly. They checked to see which employee was in the vehicle, and when they realized all employees were accounted for, they reported the vehicle as stolen.
As these events unfolded, the Douglas County Hospital called dispatch stating a man who had taken the drug ecstasy had fled from the emergency room. The man matched the description of the suspicious man reported at Dairy Queen.
Law enforcement then received a call stating the stolen NAPA vehicle was found in Osakis, where Huber had crashed it behind the Veterans of Foreign Wars club. Osakis Police Officer Josh Hanson said that after wrecking the vehicle, Huber left it running and ran barefoot across a frozen pond, then entered the attached garage of a residence on Cable Circle.
“He was working very hard to get in my daughter’s car,” said Shelly Stanek, the homeowner. “She opened up the garage door to the noise and he came running right at her. She slammed the door shut and that’s when he took off to the neighbor’s.”
The residence where Huber ran next belonged to Adam Saltmarsh. There, Huber was able to start Saltmarsh’s van and take off.
“It just wasn’t cool to see my van flying through my front yard,” Saltmarsh said. “I tried to chase him down but it wasn’t worth my life.”
After taking the van, Huber took off down 115th Avenue in Osakis, police said.
“He went straight into the chicken wire fence on the side of 94 and blasted through that,” Hanson said. “That’s how he ended up in the median.”
After crashing into the median, Huber began running on I-94 near mile marker 117 east of Osakis, bringing traffic to a stop and eventually climbing on top of a semi-truck.
Huber then jumped from the truck to the top of an Alexandria Fire Department truck, then back to the top of the semi before returning to the ground and leading officers on a foot pursuit.
He was arrested shortly afterward.
According to Hanson, law enforcement officials spent 45 minutes to an hour on the interstate with Huber.
Huber is being held in the Todd County Jail on charges of first degree burglary and theft of a motor vehicle. The jail’s inmate roster said Huber did not have a known address.
“I’m just glad no one was killed or injured severely, even him (Huber),” Saltmarsh said. “Who knows what was going on in his head or what was going on in his life. Yeah, he did something not right, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad person...I hope he gets the treatment he needs to be a better person in the long run.”
Law enforcement agencies involved in the incident include the Minnesota State Patrol, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Alexandria Police Department, the Osakis Police Department, the Todd County Sheriff's Office and the Alexandria Fire Department.