Two men charged in fatal vehicle incidents in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park
Two men have been charged in separate, fatal car incidents that occurred this weekend in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday.
Nicholas Kraus, 35, of St. Paul, was charged with intentional second-degree murder for striking and killing a female protestor in Uptown on June 12 while drunk. At the time of the fatal crash, Kraus had a suspended license, and had multiple DWI convictions. The SUV he was driving was registered in another person’s name. He will make his first appearance June 17 at 1:30 p.m.
Christopher Rice, 46, of Brooklyn Park, was also charged with intentional second-degree murder for running over and fatally hitting a male victim who was outside his home getting mail. Rice is scheduled to make his first appearance June 17 at 1:30 p.m.
“This office is shocked by this level of violence in our streets,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said.
“The defendant, Mr. Kraus, in the Uptown fatal incident in which he struck and killed a peaceful female protestor while intoxicated, and injured additional protestors, is an extreme and violent intentional act. His behavior and admittance to intentionally driving towards the protestors is one important reason why we have charged him with intentional second-degree murder.”
As for Mr. Rice, the defendant in the Brooklyn Park fatal car incident, his actions are also violent, disturbing and intentional. He took his girlfriend’s vehicle and intentionally drove towards a male victim he had previously harassed who was retrieving mail at the end of his driveway. Mr. Rice deliberately caused the death of an innocent man. For that reason, Mr. Rice will also be charged with intentional second-degree murder,” Freeman continued.
“While each case is different, their similarities are haunting. These are cruel, malicious acts of violence that have taken the lives of two innocent individuals. Our office believes that these aggressive charges are warranted in both cases.”
According to the criminal complaint for Kraus, on June 13, Minneapolis police responded to a vehicle that crashed into pedestrians and protestors in the Uptown area at Lake Street West and Girard Avenue South. There, officers found the female victim who had been hit by Kraus with severe head injuries from which she would ultimately die.
Officers noted that Kraus was drunk at the time of the incident.
Another victim who sustained injuries told police that Kraus’ SUV came barreling towards the group of protestors and hit one of the barricade vehicles with such force that it was pushed back into the group of bystanders, the complaint continues.
The victim also told police that Kraus began accelerating as he neared the makeshift barricades and pedestrians, the complaint states. Surveillance video from the area further corroborates this record.
When Kraus spoke to police after the fatal incident the following day, he admitted to driving his SUV in the Uptown area, and upon seeing the barricade, felt the need to “get over it.” He also told police that he did not brake and accelerated in an attempt to jump the barricade despite seeing people, the complaint says. Kraus further stated that he thought he may hit someone as he was driving towards the barricade.
According to the Rice complaint, on June 12, Brooklyn Park police were sent to a hit-and-run on Scott Circle North. There they found a male victim at the end of his driveway who was unresponsive. The victim would be pronounced dead upon arriving at a nearby hospital.
Witnesses who saw the hit-and-run told police the victim was hit by a black SUV, whose driver then fled the area. Just up the road from where the victim was fatally struck by Rice, the black SUV which had damage to the front end was located by police. Rice had taken the SUV from his girlfriend, unbeknownst to her. After seeing the vehicle missing from her house, the girlfriend went outside and found officers by the SUV. There she told them Rice was her live-in boyfriend, and that he was currently at their house, the complaint continues.
Officers went back with Rice’s girlfriend to her house where they found Rice acting incoherently. Rice admitted to driving and hitting someone, and that he was controlled by voices in his head who told him to strike the victim, the complaint states.
Rice was arrested, and told police about his mental health issues, and that he hadn’t taken his medication in over a month. He also informed police that a voice inside his head told him that the victim had done something terrible to his mother, the complaint says.
In 2019, Rice was civilly committed. He also has a pending first-degree aggravated robbery charge for which he was deemed incompetent to stand trial.
Christopher Rice Criminal Complaint (PDF)
Nicholas Kraus Criminal Complaint (PDF)