by Heidi L. Everett
A stolen St. Cloud police car was left abandon at Millstream Park in St. Joseph Jan. 7. The suspect fled on foot and was later arrested hiding at a nearby home.
On Jan. 7, St. Cloud police were called to Kwik Trip located at 6250 County Rd. 120 in reference to a suspicious person.
According to the report, an officer located the male in the parking lot and identified him as 25-year-old Alexander James Butcher. Butcher was cooperative and nothing criminal had occurred, so he was not in custody.
The officer who had been speaking with Butcher outside the store stepped inside the store to speak with an employee. At that time, approximately 7:30 p.m., Butcher entered and stole the squad car.
Stearns County Dispatch Center was able to track the squad car GPS.
The report notes the vehicle at times was traveling at a high rate of speed on Veterans Drive, then South on Highway 15, and then West on 3rd Street. The vehicle went through Waite Park and then toward St. Joseph where it eventually stopped in the Millstream Park area located at 725 County Road 75 W.
At approximately 7:40 p.m., a St. Joseph police officer responded to the area and located the unoccupied squad car, which was parked by the park pavilion. The vehicle had not sustained any damage, and all police equipment was present in the vehicle.
Responding officers from the St. Cloud Police Department, the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department, the Cold Spring Police Department and the Minnesota State Patrol responded and set up a perimeter. A set of footprints leaving the vehicle were followed. A Stearns County K9 and a St. Cloud drone were used during the search.
While conducting the search, a St. Joseph homeowner just north of the park called the dispatch center because they heard noises in their basement.
Deputies went to the residence along with a Sauk Rapids K9.
It was determined that the suspect had been hiding in an unlocked basement shop area but had left prior to police arrival.
Butcher was ultimately located hiding in a vehicle outside the residence.
He was taken into custody without incident at 8:41 p.m. Butcher was transported to Stearns County Jail to be held on charges related to the theft of the vehicle.
No persons were injured during the incident.