MINNEAPOLIS - A motorist accused of running into three siblings on a Minneapolis playground while fleeing authorities is now charged with a host of crimes.
Kabaar Wahleen Powell has been charged with two felony counts of fleeing a peace officer, two gross misdemeanor counts of criminal vehicular operation and one gross misdemeanor count of carrying a pistol without a permit.
The 27-year-old is accused of speeding onto the playground at Bohanon Park around 9:30 a.m. Monday with two State Patrol cruisers in pursuit. The patrol says a trooper attempted to pull Powell over on Interstate 94 but he refused to stop, taking the exit to 53rd and speeding into a residential area.
"It was extremely fast," said Zaylore Stout, a Minneapolis attorney who witnessed the chase and captured some of it with his cell phone. "If I had to estimate, 50-60 (miles per hour) at least ."
According to the criminal complaint, the Powell and the troopers following him reached speeds as high as 80 miles per hour at times during the six minute chase. Powell also ran at least 22 stop signs, the complaint states. During the chase, they also realized troopers had pursued the SUV on Friday but failed to catch it.
Witnesses say Powell eventually drove his Ford Expedition into Bohanon Park, which is right next door to Jenny Lind Elementary School.
He careened across both the park's tennis and basketball courts where a father was playing with his four children.
Three children who were struck were rushed to North Memorial Medical Center, two of them with life-threatening injuries. Two-year-old Kayden Jay Peltier fractured his pelvis, his cervical spine, had to have his spleen removed and suffered cranial bleeding. His sister, four-year-old Lillianna Lee Peltier, suffered bleeding on the brain plus numerous cuts and bruises. Their brother three-year-old Konnor Peltier, suffered less serious injuries.
After crashing the SUV into a playground set, Powell jumped from the vehicle and attempted to escape, but was caught by two troopers and taken into custody.
"The police officers jumped out and started chasing him," Stout said. "When I walked across the street is when I saw that they actually had him in custody."
Powell has a significant history of driving violations and has been driving without a license for years.
"Why he's driving like this in this manner is something we can't understand," said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman during a news conference Wednesday afternoon."It's tragic that his careless and criminal driving resulted in the serious injuries of two children."
Investigators say they located a 9mm handgun, drug paraphernalia and marijuana in the SUV.
During the news conference Freeman also questioned the decision by the trooper to engage in a chase.
"I think it ought to be reviewed," Freeman said. "I'd rather see someone get away many times than cause this kind of injury. You know, residential streets are just not made for people driving 80 miles an hour... People's lives, like these kids lives, are a lot more important than catching this guy, in my view."
Minnesota State Patrol Capt. Jason Bartell told reporters a few hours after the crash that troopers appear to have followed pursuit protocol, but those troopers are currently on leave while the investigation continues.