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Suspect in police chase steals Becker County squad car

It was quite a Friday night for 23-year-old Ty Justin Andree of Bemidji, one that started with the alleged theft of a couple of bottles of wine and ended with a police chase in a stolen squad car.

Andree is sitting in the Hubbard County Jail after making his first court appearance on burglary charges that marked the beginning of an intense evening in Becker County.

According to Becker County Sheriff Kelly Shannon, around 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 21, Andree was at Lakes Corner Liquor Store on Highway 34, seven miles east of Detroit Lakes.

He and store owner Aaron Aslesen were the only ones in the shop.

“I said ‘hi’ to him, but he didn’t say anything back — he just went over to the wine rack and grabbed a couple bottles of wine,” said Aslesen, who says he asked the “typical-looking blond kid” what he was doing, but Andree still didn’t answer.

When he walked out the door with the wine, Aslesen followed him and again asked what he was doing.

“And he looked right at me and said, ‘I’m stealing’, and then got in his vehicle and just punched it, going in reverse the whole way out the parking lot,” said Aslesen, who then got the license plate and called police.

By chance a Becker County deputy on the way to work met him on the road.

“So he turned around, activated his red lights and the guy (Andree) just kept on going,” said Shannon, adding that the officer began chasing the suspect, but at only 60 miles an hour tops, due to icy road conditions.

Both Becker County and Hubbard County law enforcement responded to the chase as it headed towards the Hubbard County line.      

Officers used spike strips on County Road 44 to disable the vehicle just west of Two Inlets.

According to Shannon, both the Hubbard County and Becker County officers were behind Andree’s stopped vehicle when he got out with a shotgun and headed towards the officers.

“My officer and the Hubbard County officer went back behind the squad car to take cover, and the suspect continued back towards them,” said Shannon, “and that’s when he (Andree) jumped in our vehicle because the door was open.”

Andree then reportedly took off as the officers fired at the stolen Becker County squad car, shooting out the back window in the process.

Shannon says procedurally, the two officers involved did everything right. “Everything —down to a ‘T’,” said Shannon, adding that Andree then headed east on County Road 44, where he made it two to three more miles before Hubbard County officers stopped him, again by using spike strips on the squad car.

According to Shannon, Andree’s mode of transportation was stopped at that point, but he still wasn’t.

“He was very aggressive,” he said. “They (officers) got in quite a hand to hand confrontation with him before he was arrested.”

Once he was arrested, Andree was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Park Rapids, where he was treated for a cut on the hand and a minor injury to the back of his head.

“An X-ray showed there is some lead in there,” said Shannon. “We don’t know if it’s from a bullet or shrapnel, but there is a lead particle in there that doctors didn’t even take out.”

No officers were hurt in the incident, which ended up lasting roughly 30 minutes and stretching for ten miles from the beginning of the chase to the arrest.

Shannon says the Becker County squad car sustained flat tires, a broken window and bullet holes on the inside.

Both officers who discharged their weapons are on paid administrative leave, as the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigates the case.

“That’s just standard procedure — nothing was done wrong,” said Shannon. “Whenever something happens with one of your guys, you bring in an outside agency to investigate it — all law enforcement agencies do that.”

Andree is now in Hubbard County, where he made his first court appearance Monday on burglary charges for allegedly stealing the Remington shotgun he had on him Friday - a felony punishable for up to 20 years.

Becker County attorneys are reviewing the case to determine what charges he will face here.