Roseville police arrested a man with a long rap sheet on Tuesday after he confessed to hitting two Army recruiters with his Jeep Grand Cherokee while they were walking in a crosswalk near Rosedale Mall on Tuesday.
According to investigators, the hit-and-run crash took place at 1:40 p.m. in front of the Kohl's located at 7651 West County Road B2. Marine Sgt. Phil Sze told FOX 9 News he couldn't believe his colleagues were struck by a hit-and-run driver while walking back from lunch.
Police say 52-year-old Enrico Darius Taylor, who officers called a "Minnesota menace," was behind the wheel when he hit the two Army recruiters, sending one careening over the hood of the SUV while the other became stuck underneath.
"Mr. Taylor may have been in the parking lot of Best Buy or Dick's, trying to defraud people out of money," Lt. Lorne Rosand, of the Roseville Police Department, told FOX 9 News. "Mr. Taylor's M.O. is to go into the parking lot and ask passers-by for money."
Officers say Taylor was traveling about 12 mph, which is not speeding by parking lot standards -- but he definitely did not give the recruiters the right of way.
"One of the recruiters went up over the top of the Jeep," Rosand confirmed. "The second recruiter went underneath and was actually caught in the undercarriage of this Jeep."
Even though Taylor knew one of the recruiters was stuck under the vehicle, he dragged him nearly a full mile to County Road B2 and Prior Avenue North.
At one point, Taylor even stopped to see if 42-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Travis Torgerson, of Circle Pines, was still stuck to his SUV. Realizing that he was, Taylor tried to kick him loose before getting back inside and continuing to drive despite the fact that the Army recruiter was still stuck, police allege.
"He actually, at one point, stopped, looked under the vehicle, could see the military recruiter -- dressed in the military gear as they usually use -- and the recruiter asked for help," Rosand explained.
Instead, Taylor accelerated at Prior Avenue to dislodge Torgerson and eventually abandoned the Jeep before fleeing to a Motel 6 nearby, police said. From there, he tried to call a cab; however, staff at the hotel noticed he was nervous and tried to hide behind a newspaper when a police squad drove by.
Investigators say Taylor fled once more to a nearby Cadillac dealership, which is where police caught up with him. Investigators say he then confessed to his role in the crash and was arrested.
Torgerson suffered serious injuries to his buttocks and right leg and two broken bones. He was taken to HCMC for surgery; however, he is expected to survive. The police account states he had clung to the bottom of the Jeep to lift himself off the ground to try to minimize his injuries.
"The injuries are not life-threatening," Rosand affirmed.
The other recruiter, 29-year-old Staff Sgt. Michael Stroud, of Brooklyn Park, was not seriously injured and did not require hospitalization.
"He said that he made direct eye contact with the driver," Sze told FOX 9 News. "So, to know that the driver saw him and still hit him anyway just blew me away."
Charges against Taylor, a St. Paul resident, are expected by Thursday; however, they could come as soon as Wednesday.
Roseville police also say Taylor spent a significant amount of time in the parking lot of Best Buy and Dick's Sporting Goods attempting to swindle people for money. Now, officers are asking anyone who feels they've been targeted by Taylor to contact them at 651-792-7008.