A man was being treated at Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth overnight Tuesday for an apparent life-threatening, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head after he allegedly kidnapped a woman in International Falls and led police officers on a 60-mile chase to Orr.
International Falls police responded to a report of a kidnapping at about 5 p.m. Tuesday on the 1400 block of state Highway 11-71. A woman had been forced into a van by a man with whom she had a prior relationship, according to a release from the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office. Law enforcement from across the region converged on the area and a search for the vehicle began.
At approximately 8:30 p.m., St. Louis County sheriff’s deputies located a vehicle matching the description heading south on U.S. Highway 53 near Kabetogama Lake. A pursuit began that reached speeds of 80 mph. Deputies deployed stop sticks, damaging the van’s wheels, but the pursuit continued.
Officers said the suspect waved a gun out the window as he drove. Several officers used their vehicles in an attempt to stop the van, which eventually pulled into a motel parking lot along Highway 53 in Orr and stopped.
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 for evaluation.
At about the same time the victim fled the vehicle, officers heard a single gunshot from inside the van, according to the release. 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.
Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension crime scene personnel were headed to Orr to investigate the incident this morning. No officers were injured and none discharged their weapons, according to the release.
The International Falls Police Department is leading the investigation.
Other agencies involved included the Koochiching and St. Louis County sheriff’s offices, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Minnesota State Patrol, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Paul Bunyan Violent Crime Enforcement Team, Headwaters Safe Trails FBI Task Force and Lake Superior Drug Task Force.