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Continued: Driver is accused of threatening cyclist with ax

  • Article by: JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 12, 2009 - 10:38 PM

A pickup truck driver is accused of trying to run over a bicyclist and then coming after him brandishing an ax after a road-rage incident in Burnsville last weekend.

The driver, Mitchel J. Pieper, 32, of Burnsville, was charged in Dakota County District Court on Tuesday with making terroristic threats, a felony, in connection with the altercation Saturday. The bicyclist was not seriously hurt.

The victim, identified in a criminal complaint only by the initials T.F., reportedly had been riding his bicycle near the entrance of a mobile home park on W. Burnsville Parkway that afternoon when he saw a blue pickup run a stop sign. The victim said he yelled at the driver, who stopped the truck and got out.

The complaint, based largely on the accounts of the victim and an independent witness, alleges that the altercation happened this way:

The driver, yelling and swearing, held his hand behind his back as he walked toward the bicyclist. When the driver was close, the bicyclist shoved him back, nervous that the driver had a weapon.

The trucker returned to his pickup, and the bicyclist rode off, heading a block south. As he rode his bicycle on the sidewalk, the pickup driver showed up and tried to run him over. Knocked off his bicycle, the victim looked up to see the driver exit his truck and approach with a big yellow ax in his hand.

The driver was yelling that the victim was "trailer trash" and that he was "going to get it." The victim told the driver that he had taken down the truck's license plate number and was going to call police. The driver left.

Burnsville police soon found the truck empty in the mobile home park. In the extended cab area was a big yellow ax, the complaint states.

Pieper walked up to police officers and told them that a bicyclist had been yelling at him for rolling through a stop sign, and that when Pieper got out, the bicyclist hit him in the jaw. Officers couldn't see any injury to the driver's face.

Pieper also told police that a few minutes later he came upon the bicyclist a block to the south, so he got out and grabbed his ax.

Police found a witness who didn't know either man. She told police that she saw a blue truck "trying to run over a man on a bicycle as the man was on the sidewalk," the complaint says.

She also told police that she saw the driver get out with a yellow ax. The witness told police she was frightened as the driver yelled and swore.

"I've got something for you," he allegedly yelled at the bicyclist.

If convicted of making terroristic threats, Pieper could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and fined $3,000 to $10,000.

Joy Powell • 952-882-9017

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