An Oakdale woman remains hospitalized after being run down in front of witnesses. Maplewood parking lot surveillance cameras recorded the incident.
Bail was increased Monday for a suspect in a road rage incident that seriously injured an Oakdale woman.
Police also said they believe that the "deliberate" running down of the woman merits a tougher charge than what is now filed against John Thomas Babcook, a 21-year-old Centerville man.
Babcook was charged Friday with first-degree assault. He made his first court appearance Monday in Ramsey County District Court, where bail was increased from $25,000 to $100,000.
Maplewood Police Chief Dave Thomalla said the woman suffered numerous broken vertabrae and a head injury.
The incident was captured by surveillance cameras as it played out about 9 p.m. Thursday in the parking lot of Hill Murray School, near Larpenteur and Century Avenues in Maplewood. A number of witnesses watched as a man gunned his car and ran down the 23-year-old woman, Thomalla said. By the time police arrived, 30 to 40 people had gathered.
Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner said Monday that tougher charges or an enhanced penalty are possible.
"This is a very serious crime," she said. "The allegations are appalling and frightening, and we will proceed accordingly."
Gaertner said prosecutors have not seen all of the evidence, including the surveillance images. "We will continue to evaluate whether higher charges are warranted," she said.
Even if first-degree assault charges are not increased to attempted murder, a sentence for first-degree assault could be doubled because of aggravating circumstances. Without prior convictions, that could bring a sentence as long as 172 months, compared with 153 months possible under sentencing guidelines for a charge of attempted second-degree murder, she said.
The victim, who is identified in the criminal complaint only by the initials A.R.F., asked police not to release her name. Investigators interviewed her at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where she remained Monday, Thomalla said.
He confirmed that police continue to investigate whether the woman, as well as Babcook, could have been under the influence of alcohol.
Occupants in the woman's car told police that another vehicle had cut them off while driving on Century Avenue. A passenger in the victim's car allegedly threw a tub of lip balm at the car, and the victim allegedly threw her plastic shifter knob at the car, too.
Both cars pulled into the parking lot where, eyewitnesses said, the man's car rammed the victim's car. The woman got out to confront the man, and the driver chased her down and hit her from behind with his car, the complaint said. The vehicle left the scene, but Babcook later turned himself in to authorities.
Meanwhile, a Centerville neighbor of the Babcook family expressed disbelief Monday.
"Everybody is shocked," said Bobbie Wiederkehr. "Nobody can figure out why this happened."
She said she saw Babcook playing catch with his father in their back yard just last week. Other times, she'd see him walking the family dog, and she never noticed him causing problems, she said.
Thomas Babcook, the suspect's father, declined to comment Monday except to say: "Pray for John. Pray for the girl."
Joy Powell • 612-673-7750