Police arrest suspect in fatal Bloomington hit and run

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW and LORA PABST , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: December 12, 2008 - 6:22 AM

The driver allegedly hit a 66-year-old woman near a Bloomington parking lot and fled the scene. Police said alcohol was a factor.

A woman hit and killed by a motorist Wednesday night outside a Sam's Club store in Bloomington might be alive if the driver had listened to bystanders who frantically pleaded with him to stop.

LuAnn Marie Johnson, 66, of Burnsville, was walking into the store at 200 W. American Blvd. with her husband when she was struck just after 7 p.m., said Sgt. Marty Earley. She was in a marked crosswalk when the car hit her.

The impact knocked Johnson to the ground. As she lay in front of the motorist's vehicle, a man standing next to her screamed, "No, no, no!" and tried to get the driver to stay put.

Instead, the driver gunned the engine and drove over Johnson, hitting her and dragging her 10 feet as he sped away, said witness Angela Benson, who had just exited the store with her two young sons and was 20 feet away.

"It was horrible to see," said Benson, a managing editor at WCCO-TV, Ch. 4. "He took off like a bullet. People were just screaming."

Johnson was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, where she died.

After hitting her, the suspect sideswiped a parked vehicle before leaving the parking lot and heading west on American Boulevard.

Police stopped Anthony Phillip LaSalle, 36, of Bloomington, when he hit another vehicle at the intersection of American Boulevard and Lyndale Avenue. They used a Taser to subdue him.

LaSalle was arrested and booked into the Bloomington city jail, Earley said. He is now being held in the Hennepin County jail on probable cause for criminal vehicular operation.

Police were still gathering statements from several witnesses Thursday morning, but "we do know alcohol was a factor," Earley said.

LaSalle is expected to be charged today, Earley said.

harlow@startribune.com • 612-673-7768 lpabst@startribune.com • 612-673-4628

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