The International Falls Police Department received a report of a kidnapping that occurred shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday on the 1400 block of Highway 11-71. The adult female victim had been forced into a white van by a man with whom she had a prior relationship.
Law enforcement from across the region converged on the area and a search for the vehicle began.
St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office deputies located a vehicle matching the description at approximately 8:30 p.m. heading south on Minnesota Highway 53 near Kabetogama Lake. A pursuit began which reached speeds of 80 mph.
Deputies deployed stop sticks, damaging the van’s wheels, but the pursuit continued. Eventually the vehicle pulled into the parking lot of a motel on the 4400 block of Highway 53 in the city of Orr. The suspect waved a gun outside of the van window as he drove. Law enforcement used several vehicles to attempt to stop the van. Eventually the vehicle stopped and officers surrounded the van.
The kidnapping victim exited the passenger side door and fled to a wooded area where law enforcement located her a short time later. She was taken to Essentia Health-Virginia to be evaluated.
At about the same time the victim fled the vehicle, officers heard a single gunshot from inside the van. Officers observed the suspect with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Officers provided medical assistance at the scene until Orr Ambulance Service medical personnel arrived. The man was transported by Life Link Air Care to Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth for treatment of life-threatening injuries. Investigators located a handgun inside the van.
BCA crime scene personnel are en route to Orr to process the scene. No officers were injured during the incident. No officers discharged their weapons.
The investigation of the incident is being led by the International Falls Police Department and the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.
Law enforcement with the International Falls Police Department, Koochiching and St. Louis County Sheriff’s offices, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Minnesota State Patrol, Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources, the Paul Bunyan Violent Crime Enforcement Team, the Headwaters Safe Trails FBI Task Force and the Lake Superior Drug Task Force took part in the pursuit.
More information will be provided by the International Falls Police Department as the investigation continues.