An 83-year-old motorist slammed into a crowded bus stop in north Minneapolis on Tuesday morning, injuring six people, three critically.

The impact left bystanders speechless. "Nobody could believe what happened. It was just quiet," said witness Shauntae Cosby, who along with others started helping the victims.

Police took the man into custody but released him later Tuesday pending further investigation, said Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla. The crash was not the result of a chase, Padilla said, but authorities are still trying to piece together what happened.

Preliminary information confirmed witness accounts that the driver heading south on Lyndale Avenue in a tan van clipped the mirror of a southbound Route 22 bus that had stopped at W. Broadway to unload passengers.

The man backed up and struck the mirror for a second time, then went around the corner and crashed into the bus shelter on Broadway, Padilla said.

The van is registered to a Champlin man. He did not immediately return messages seeking comment. A Star Tribune reporter went to his home but a woman there declined to talk to her.

Three of the injured men were taken in critical condition to North Memorial Health ­ Hospital in Robbinsdale. Two others were transported to HCMC with noncritical injuries.

One man was treated at the scene and released, Padilla said.

Cosby, who was a passenger on the Route 22 bus, watched in horror as the van accelerated and jumped the curb, landing on at least one man.

Witnesses began yelling at the driver, who then got out of his vehicle and stood expressionless. "He didn't look worried and he showed no remorse," said Cosby.

Bystanders tended to one victim pinned under the van until paramedics arrived. They kept talking to him so he wouldn't lose consciousness.

Police have not indicated what caused the crash. They have not said whether drugs or alcohol were a factor.

Authorities blocked off W. Broadway between Lyndale and Aldrich avenues near a Cub Foods store while they tended to the injured and worked to reconstruct the crash.

Padilla said police would get security video from local businesses to aid in the investigation.

The mangled shelter and broken glass covered the sidewalk at the bus stop in front of a strip mall that includes a Cricket Wireless outlet, a liquor store and a check-cashing business. The bus stop is a popular place for people to hang out, and it was busy Tuesday morning.

Darnell DeMarco, manager at the Cricket store, arrived at work a few minutes after the incident, which was reported to police about 9:25 a.m.

"Unbelievable," he said of the scene that had been taped off by police and had drawn scores of onlookers. "I thought somebody got shot."

DeMarco said he saw a couple of people loaded onto stretchers and put into ambulances.

"This is very disturbing this early in the morning," he said.

Staff writer Liz Sawyer contributed to this report.