A career criminal who walked out of prison just a few months ago was tracked by Eden Prairie police to Shoreview, chased at speeds as high as 80 miles per hour and arrested at gunpoint on suspicion of burglarizing dozens of metro-area businesses during his brief time as a free man, officials said.
Brian S. Williams, 41, of Minneapolis, was charged on Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court with only a small number of crimes authorities suspect he has committed around the Twin Cities.
"It is believed this suspect could be responsible for as many as 60 burglaries at businesses throughout the metro area, including several in Eden Prairie," the city said.
In Ramsey County, he was charged with burglary, fleeing police and possessing burglary tools. Eden Prairie spokeswoman Katie Beal said the investigation into the additional Eden Prairie crimes will eventually be turned over to Hennepin County for a decision on whether to file charges.
At the time of his arrest, Williams was barely 2 1/2 months removed from his release from the prison in St. Cloud for an August 2011 conviction in Ramsey County for aiding and abetting theft.
According to Tuesday's criminal complaint:
After identifying Williams as a suspect in several burglaries, Eden Prairie police tailed him for at least a week and noted that he had a penchant for committing his crimes on Sundays.
Late in the morning on Super Bowl Sunday, Eden Prairie police followed Williams to Shoreview Office Park, dominated by tenants in the health industry, at 1000 W. County Rd. E. Officers saw him enter, then emerge about 20 minutes later.
Police confronted him, guns drawn. Williams ran to his vehicle, where a pregnant woman was waiting, and sped away.
Once on eastbound Interstate 694, Williams reached 80 mph before exiting about 3 miles later at Rice Street and was soon cornered by unmarked squad cars. He was arrested at gunpoint. The woman was taken to a hospital for what the complaint said was "unrelated pregnancy issues."
Williams had $838 in cash on him.
Police checked office doors at the County Rd. E property and detected fresh pry marks at entrances to three businesses. Two of the businesses reported nothing missing; $100 was missing from a cash box at the third.
Williams told police on Monday that someone he knew as "Butter" had helped him enter the building by sticking a piece of cardboard in the front door. He denied that cash in his pocket had been stolen.
Police found a screwdriver in the driver's side door panel of Williams' vehicle.
Williams' criminal history dates back more than 20 years, according to court records, starting with a sentence in Hennepin County for fleeing police. Since then, Williams has been sentenced in the metro area for disorderly conduct, receiving stolen property, credit card fraud, third-degree burglary, second-degree burglary, damage to property and aggravated felony theft.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482