Minneapolis police are looking for suspects they say are behind a weekslong spree of armed carjackings and robberies across the city, including one episode Sunday in which a father was dragged a short distance as he tried to stop a man from stealing his vehicle with his wife and child inside.
The mother and child escaped, but the father suffered serious injuries in the incident Sunday afternoon in the northeast Second Precinct, and was brought to a hospital for surgery, police said. His condition wasn't immediately known on Monday.
Detectives are trying to determine whether the would-be carjacking was the work of a robbery crew they believe has been responsible for dozens of armed stickups over the past three weeks, most of which occurred in the Third and Fifth precincts on the South Side, although some reports have also surfaced downtown. No arrests had been announced.
Police said that the incidents follow a familiar pattern: Victims are approached by three or four men, often wearing face masks, and ordered to turn over their vehicles or possessions at gunpoint; the suspects typically flee in a car with no plates.
The spree started about three weeks ago and has included dozens of incidents, ranging from purse-snatchings to car thefts to robberies. In one recent episode, a motorist was driving in south Minneapolis when he was "boxed in" by several suspects, who pulled him out of the driver's seat and assaulted him, before taking his car, police say.
On Sunday, suspects stole a running car with a dog inside from a gas station in the Lowry Hill East neighborhood while the owner was inside paying; the dog was found a few blocks away, but it wasn't clear whether the vehicle was recovered. The same day, a woman was reportedly accosted by five suspects, between the ages of 14 and 16, and had her purse stolen while she was walking in the area of W. 31st Street and S. Blaisdell Avenue — about a block west from the Fifth Precinct police station. The suspects were said to have fled in a gray, newer model Camry with no plates.
The spree comes amid a surge in crime, particularly shootings, since the police killing of George Floyd and the unrest that followed two months ago, which itself has become part of a fierce debate around the future of policing in the state's largest city.
Citywide, the number of robberies has jumped about 35%, to 886 compared with 657 at this time last year, according to Police Department statistics.
In the Third Precinct, armed stickups have more than doubled, while such crimes have gone up about 47% in the Fifth Precinct, which covers the city's mostly affluent southwestern corner, statistics show.