A violent felon wanted by authorities soon after his release from prison went on a knife-wielding spree of carjackings that began at a central Minnesota grocery store, terrorized victims in Minneapolis and ended in a multivehicle crash in St. Paul, authorities said Friday.
The 39-year-old man, who was released from the Lino Lakes Prison in May after serving six years behind bars for aggravated robbery, was arrested Thursday night after a 40-minute rampage that ended only when he crashed a stolen vehicle into several other cars parked along Ford Parkway.
Charged with several crimes was Brandon Stark, who allegedly began his string of crimes shortly before 3 a.m. Wednesday in Foley, about 65 miles northwest of the Twin Cities, when he walked into the 24-hour Coborn’s grocery on Glen Street. He allegedly kidnapped an employee he did not know and forced the worker, at knifepoint, to drive him to Minneapolis.
Stark had the victim drop off Stark near 16th Av. NE. and California Street NE. later that day, court documents say.
Court documents say Stark was paroled on intensive supervised release, and an arrest warrant was issued after the June 12 kidnapping in Foley.
Thursday just before 9 p.m., Stark’s spree allegedly gained momentum when he approached a woman walking near 2nd St. NE. and 17th Av. NE. and forced her at knifepoint to take him to her car parked near 302 13th Av. NE.
Once in that parking lot, the woman threw her car keys at the suspect and ran into a business.
A man came outside and confronted the suspect, who ran off, a criminal complaint says.
At 3rd St. NE. and 12th Av. NE., Stark jumped into a vehicle brandishing his knife and forced the female driver to take him to south Minneapolis, according to police and the complaint.
That victim was able to convince Stark that she needed gas at E. 46th St. and Hiawatha Av. S. and pulled into the gas pumps at the Holiday Station. The woman ran into the station with her keys.
Stark then tried to swipe another car in the Holiday lot but the owner confronted him.
Stark allegedly pulled a knife and threatened to kill him.
Then he tried to get into yet another vehicle through an open window as it pulled up to the pumps.
The driver of that vehicle and the man Stark had threatened both fought with Stark, but Stark eventually got control of the vehicle and drove toward St. Paul on E. 46th Street.
A Minneapolis police officer, alerted to the theft, spotted Stark driving the stolen car near the Ford Bridge into St Paul. Stark would not pull over and the officer began chasing him but that quickly ended, in the 1900 block of Ford Parkway, when Stark crashed the stolen car into at least four vehicles parked there.
He was arrested just before 9:30 p.m. and treated at Hennepin County Medical Center for minor injuries.
Friday afternoon, the Hennepin County attorney’s office charged Stark with first-degree aggravated robbery, second-degree assault and fleeing police in a motor vehicle in connection with the incidents at the Holiday gas station. Investigators will continue to work on the other incidents and will forward those cases to the Hennepin County attorney’s office for consideration of charges next week.
Stark was being held without bail in the Hennepin County jail Friday night.
His criminal history includes convictions for burglary and fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct in Wright County, stalking and second-degree assault in Aitkin County, drunken driving in Anoka County, burglary in Stearns County and the conviction that led to his most recent incarceration, first-degree aggravated robbery in Crow Wing County.