A driver crashed into Los Ocampo restaurant in St. Paul Thursday afternoon, causing a gas leak. He then jumped from his SUV and tried to carjack another vehicle, according to St. Paul police.
Officers arrived at the scene at University Avenue and Dale Street just after noon Thursday to find an SUV sticking out of one of the restaurant’s large, rounded front windows, with debris surrounding it, according to a police Twitter post.
Right after the crash, bystanders tried to help the SUV driver, but he fought with them, police said.
Then he approached a car at the intersection of Dale Street and University Avenue in what was likely an attempted carjacking, said police spokesman Sgt. Mike Ernster. The SUV driver began assaulting the person driving that car, punching him and brandishing a knife.
The would-be carjacking victim suffered facial injuries from being hit, Ernster said.
The driver suspected of assaulting him is being treated at Regions Hospital in St. Paul for what are believed to be noncritical injuries, Ernster said, including a cut to his head.
Officers believe he was impaired and they planned to obtain a search warrant to test his blood alcohol level. He will be booked into jail after medical treatment, Ernster said.
The crash caused a gas leak that was repaired within an hour of the crash. St. Paul firefighters stood by at the scene as Xcel Energy workers dug a hole and pinched off the gas line.
Ernster said the hissing sound of the leak could be heard hundreds of feet away.
A police officer posted on Twitter a video of the path the SUV took: jumping a median, driving down the sidewalk, chopping down some trees and then knocking over a wall and crashing into the restaurant.
“This whole thing is bizarre,” Ernster said.