Carjacking suspect killed by police is identified

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 9, 2011 - 12:25 AM

Police say Jason P. Barsness carjacked a cabdriver and led police on a chase before officers killed him.

Hours before he allegedly carjacked a Minneapolis cabdriver at gunpoint Thursday and led authorities on a high-speed chase that ended in his death, Jason P. Barsness left two cryptic messages.

"It's the final countdown ..." he wrote on Facebook at 12:02 a.m. Thursday. An hour later, he left a voicemail for his friend Elysah Dawson.

"Hey, I was just wondering if I could come over," Dawson recalled him saying.

But Dawson didn't get the message until about 7:30 a.m. By that time, authorities say, Barsness had led officers on about a 40-minute chase reaching speeds of 100 miles an hour. He eventually faced gunfire from five officers when he pointed a gun at them on Interstate 35E just south of Forest Lake. He died of multiple wounds, according to the state Department of Public Safety (DPS).

"I thought it was unusual for him to call," Dawson said. "When I woke up and I saw this happening on the news, I just had a sick feeling."

The officers who fired shots were troopers Jared Sturgill and Andrew Gibbs, Minneapolis police officer Paul Dellwo and Brooklyn Park police officers Michael Ploumen and Adam Moen.

Trooper Gerald Ladwig did not fire but witnessed the shooting. Minneapolis police spokesman Sgt. Stephen McCarty said that two of their officers, Daniel Ledman and Chris Smith, also witnessed the shooting.

All eight officers are on paid leave, which is routine.

Barsness, 28, waved down a Red and White Taxi cab about 5 a.m. in south Minneapolis, said the company's general manager Pat White. He smelled of alcohol but didn't appear drunk. The cabdriver grew suspicious of a north metro address Barsness provided. When the cabdriver asked how he was going to pay, Barsness allegedly turned violent.

White said that Barsness pressed a gun against the driver's head, threatened to kill him, ordered him out on Interstate 94 westbound in the Lowry tunnel, robbed him and fled in the cab.

The stolen cab hit spike strips that authorities had laid across I-35E at 80th Street in Columbus, sending it into a ditch. Officers confronted Barsness, and he was shot.

Authorities have not discussed a possible motive for his actions, or said how many times he was struck by gunfire and from which officers.

Court records show that Barsness' criminal record includes convictions for drunken driving, disorderly conduct and domestic assault. He pleaded guilty in February to driving after his license was cancelled, and was given a stayed sentence of 90 days in jail and one year probation.

Barsness' Facebook and voice messages troubled Dawson, who said Barsness was trying to get his life together. He planned to stay away from alcohol and had a new job, she said.

"He was a really good guy, a really big heart," she said. "He really cared about his mom, really respected her, helped her. I just don't believe this."

Barsness' last known address is in Cass Lake, but authorities said he may also have an address in Minneapolis.

Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708 Follow Chao on Twitter: @ChaoStrib

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