A man suspected of throwing an iron vise through the windshield of a car this week in Bloomington, seriously injuring the driver, has been a suspect in more than 100 cases of vandalism across the Twin Cities dating back to the early 1990s.
Gerret D. Parks, 39, was arrested Friday at the Bloomington home he shares with his mother in connection with Monday night's attack. The vise slammed into a car traveling south on Normandale Boulevard, ricocheted off the steering wheel and struck National Guard Sgt. Jon Stacke in the face, breaking the Iraq war veteran's jaw and knocking out several of his teeth.
Police have determined that Parks was in the area about the time of the incident, Bloomington Deputy Police Chief Rick Hart said. They also recovered items at his home that "may link him to the crimes that have been committed over the last six weeks," Hart said. He would not say what items.
Parks is expected to be charged Monday with felony second-degree assault.
"We're convinced this is the person responsible," Hart said. "Whether others are involved, at this point in time we're leaving that possibility open."
Stacke spent three nights in the hospital and went home Thursday night. He is now able to talk and to eat soft foods.
His wife, Shannon Stacke, said she was excited when she heard of the arrest. "For me it was the best news ... I was driving [when the news came] and I had to pull over," she said. "I'm just really impressed with how fast it came about, and hopefully we can prevent this from happening to somebody else."
Her husband, however, was trying not to get too excited until they know for sure if Parks is the culprit, she said.
Stacke was driving with a fellow Iraq war veteran, National Guard Staff Sgt. Jeremy Gettel, when the vise crashed through the windshield about 7:20 p.m. Monday.
The two had just finished a 6-mile training march, complete with 50-pound rucksacks, and were headed to the Bloomington Armory.
The vise knocked Stacke out, "but his foot was still on the gas pedal," Gettel said earlier this week. Gettel grabbed the bent steering wheel, yanked the emergency brake and stopped the car before it could veer into oncoming traffic, then called 911.
Long record of destruction
Parks has a long history of property, traffic and alcohol-related crimes, according to state records.
As a 20-year-old, the Bloomington Jefferson High School graduate was sentenced to 18 months in prison for third-degree burglary and property damage after stealing the glass roof of a 1984 Corvette and inflicting $1,600 worth of other damage to the car, which had been parked in Bloomington.
That prison sentence was stayed in favor of 10 years' probation. Parks still served 135 days in the Hennepin County workhouse.
At the time, police said he was a suspect in 100-plus other incidents of vandalism in Bloomington, Burnsville and south Minneapolis.
Since then, Parks has been convicted of numerous crimes, including property damage, burglary and drunken driving, according to state records.
Monday's attack marked the sixth time since Jan. 18 a vehicle has been struck by a flying object along a busy 14-block stretch of Normandale Boulevard between 84th and 98th Streets, which is essentially a continuation of Hwy. 100.
On Friday night, Parks' mother, Jeanette Parks, said she believes the police claim that her son is connected to Monday's attack is "totally bogus."
"My son is a decent, good, kind, wonderful kid," she said before visiting him in jail. "He doesn't do harm to people."
As for his criminal exploits when he was younger, she said, "We just put it all behind us. He's just been a great guy."