Armed with projectiles ranging from a box of baking soda to gallon water jugs and something resembling an anvil, a motorist cruised a busy 14-block stretch of Normandale Boulevard in Bloomington this winter, hurling the missiles into the paths of oncoming vehicles.
Authorities Tuesday charged Gerret Parks, of Bloomington, in five of the potentially deadly assaults, including an attack with a bench vise that smashed the face of a Minnesota National Guardsman.
The 39-year-old Parks remained at large Wednesday night, having been bailed out of jail twice in recent days, including his release from custody after driving drunk through a Wisconsin town and fighting with police officers sent to subdue him.
Guard Sgt. Jon Stacke, who spent three nights in the hospital after the vise crashed through his windshield, hopes Parks is soon returned to jail. When he is, bail will be set at $800,000.
"I want him to pay his dues for what he's done,'' Stacke said Wednesday. "Especially at his age, I don't think there's really any excuse."
According to a criminal complaint made public Wednesday, 14 incidents have occurred on Normandale between 84th Street and 98th Street from Dec. 29 to Feb. 27. In most of the cases, projectiles hit the front of oncoming vehicles and caused significant damage. Several victims reported objects came from the driver's side of another car.
Bloomington police say they have been able to link Parks to five of the incidents, and the warrant charged him with four counts of first-degree property damage and one count of first-degree assault.
Police were searching Wednesday for Parks, who was arrested Friday at the Bloomington home he shares with his mother in connection with the property damage cases. He posted $50,000 bail early Sunday morning from Hennepin County jail before being charged. By Sunday night he was jailed in the Polk County, Wis., jail after being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and fighting with police. He posted $2,500 bail Monday afternoon.
"I'm just kind of confused that he was able to post bail ... and that he was able to go to Wisconsin and then there was that whole fiasco and he was able to post bail again," Stacke said.
The entire case has been "a weird kind of soap opera, almost comedy," Stacke said.
Originally, Bloomington police only knew of six incidents since Jan. 18 involving items being thrown at moving vehicles on that stretch of road, which is essentially a continuation of Hwy. 100, but after media coverage, more victims stepped forward, Bloomington Deputy Police Chief Rick Hart said.
"You just don't know what people are capable of and, obviously, we would like to see closure on this and justice served for the victims," Hart said.
The criminal complaint details several incidents where Parks allegedly threw objects at vehicles.
On Feb. 4, a little after midnight, a woman reported "an anvil-shaped object" about the size of a baseball hit her vehicle, causing almost $3,000 damage. The woman believed someone in an oncoming vehicle had thrown the item from the driver's side. On Feb. 7, about 10 p.m., a man was driving southbound on Normandale when his vehicle was struck by half of a 15-pound hex dumbbell. He also remembered passing an oncoming vehicle at the time. Parks also was charged in relation to similar incidents involving a rock, a machine part and the vise.
When Parks' home was searched by police last week, he told police he had thrown away a dumbbell, as well as a vise and other items that had belonged to his father. After being arrested, Parks said a former friend must have stolen the items out of his trash and set him up.
While in custody over the weekend, Parks admitted he was feeling suicidal. According to the complaint, police found him in his cell after he used the zipper on his pants to slit both wrists, which required stitches.
It's not the first time Parks has been connected to vandalism. According to the complaint, Parks was charged in 1994 with riding around in a vehicle and using a slingshot and BB gun to shoot out the windows of cars, homes and businesses. During the 1990s, police said, he was a suspect in 100-plus incidents of vandalism in Bloomington, Burnsville and south Minneapolis.
Parks' recent issues with the law are the reason why Assistant County Attorney Deborah Russell requested Parks' bail be set at $500,000.
"Despite having previously posted bond in this case, the State seeks a warrant with high bail due to the Defendant's actions after being released on this case," Russell wrote in the complaint. "Defendant is a danger to himself as well as the community and high bail is necessary."
A judge has upped the amount to $800,000, said Chuck Laszewski, spokesman for the Hennepin County attorney's office.
Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495 Twitter: @stribnorfleet