The Lakeville man who authorities say rigged a relative’s car for a murder-suicide while his two young sons lay in the back seat has been charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder.

Jay Anthony Ernst, 27, was charged Friday in Dakota County District Court. Bail has not been set.

Lakeville police were called to a family member’s home about 1:40 a.m. Thursday about an interrupted suicide attempt. The relative, who had been housing Ernst and his 2- and 4-year-old boys this week, found him in her car with the engine running, the garage door closed and a hose routed from the tailpipe to the vehicle’s interior, police said.

According to the criminal complaint:

The relative immediately removed the hose and pounded on the car’s window. By the time police arrived, Ernst had driven away with the boys inside.

Ernst’s marriage was ending and he’d been struggling with addiction, the relative told authorities. Police said he’d made suicidal statements to family members in recent days.

The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension issued an Amber Alert to ask for the public’s help with the suspected abduction. Burnsville officers stopped the car on Interstate 35E about 4:30 a.m. and arrested Ernst. The children were unharmed.

Ernst told police he didn’t intend to hurt anyone and that the incident was merely a cry for help. He thought the only way he’d be able to get chemical dependency treatment would be to do something “extreme,” according to court documents.

He has at least three theft convictions dating to 2006.