Police have identified the alleged car thief who crashed into a Loring Park bar in Minneapolis late at night over the weekend, ruptured a natural gas line and sent patrons and nearby apartment residents fleeing for safety.

David A. Forgianni, 41, of Bloomington, remained in the Hennepin County jail Sunday on suspicion of auto theft and assault.

Forgianni and another man were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center with minor injuries suffered in the crash, which occurred about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, according to Sgt. Catherine Michal.

The chain of events began near Nicollet Avenue and 19th Street when, according to Michal, Forgianni jumped in front of a vehicle and stomped on the hood and windshield. The driver got out of the car, and Forgianni got in and drove toward Loring Park, Michal said.

The car jumped the curb, collided with a parking post and hit the front of 19 Bar on 15th Street between LaSalle Avenue and Nicollet.

Patrons in the bar were directed out the back, and fire crews evacuated nearby apartment buildings around 2:30 a.m. because of the gas leak, which was repaired by CenterPoint Energy workers. Residents were allowed to re-enter around 3:45 a.m.

Forgianni was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash, the sergeant said.

Paul Walsh