MINNETONKA, Minn. — One month has passed since a violent carjacking happened in a family's driveway in Minnetonka. The family is now encouraging residents to attend Monday's Minnetonka City Council meeting to share their concerns.
Last week, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office charged Romell Roshode Lewis, 21, with first-degree carjacking, robbery and burglary.
According to the Minnetonka Police Department, Lewis is wanted in a series of metro area burglaries and car thefts.
"This is a significant development in a string of cases that took place across the Twin Cities in recent weeks," said Capt. Andy Gardner, in a press release. "This is the first case in Hennepin County making use of a new law that calls for more serious charges for violent offenders in carjackings."
A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
"You can imagine it's a pretty traumatic event. You have people coming to your yard in the middle of the day and attack a little boy and his mother. So there's a lot of trauma going on with that," said Craig Beason.
Beason's wife and 13-year-old son were the victims of the carjacking on the morning of Aug. 17.
According to the complaint, around 10:50 a.m. Beason's wife and son returned home from grocery shopping.
While carrying groceries into the home, Beason's wife "looked out the window and observed a grayish sedan occupied by multiple males pull up in front of her home."
When she exited her home into the attached garage, she noticed one man in the driver's seat of her husband's vehicle in the garage. The man wasn't able to start the car in the garage and ran back to the suspect vehicle. When she went to confront them, the complaint states two other men then attacked her. When the 13-year-old son tried calling the police, one of the men started dragging the teen while trying to take the phone but was unable to overpower him. According to the complaint, the son sustained scrapes on his body and suffered physical pain during the attack.
The four suspects then sped off in the suspect sedan and the victim's vehicle.
"They tried to run them over when they left the driveway and then they went down the dead-end street and turned around and tried to run them over again. Both of them," Beason said.
After the family called the police, officers intercepted the fleeing vehicles and began a pursuit. The complaint said officers ended the pursuit due to concerns for public safety. About a half hour after the incident, officers were able to track the family's vehicle to a Walgreens in Edina. Edina and Minnetonka officers observed several males standing around the two vehicles in the parking lot but they fled before officers were able to make contact with them.
Beason said he understood why the pursuit was called off but added, "To not arrest them when they had the chance to arrest them, I don't understand that... they just watched them get into the other stolen vehicle and leave."
Beason added, "It's extremely frustrating to see that it went this long before charges were even brought forth and now only one of four has been brought forth."
According to the city of Minnetonka, this is its first carjacking of 2023 and there have been fewer than five carjackings in the city in the past three years.
However, Minnetonka Mayor Brad Wiersum said, "Whenever a crime happens and we have victims of crime in our city, our city seems less safe. I think the number one job that I have as a mayor is to guarantee that my residents feel safe in our city."
Mayor Wiersum said he and other mayors over the years have met with the Hennepin County Attorney. First, with Mike Freeman and just this summer with current Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty.
"Just talked about the challenges of crime and juvenile crime, in particular. When it comes to violent crime, that's a particular concern," Mayor Wiersum said.
According to the mayor, some of the perpetrators of this carjacking are juveniles.
"We are going to have to invest time and money to have programs that can turn the lives of these kids around who are committing crimes," Mayor Wiersum said.
He said police are just one part of the solution when addressing crime.
"We also need prosecutors who are going to prosecute and charge; we need judges who are going to hold perpetrators accountable and appropriately; and we also need a system where we can either reform or incarcerate as appropriate and we're missing some of the pieces in that puzzle," Mayor Wiersum said.
Beason said he would like to see juvenile reform programs and holding perpetrators accountable.
He is encouraging residents to show up to the Minnetonka City Council meeting on Monday night in hopes it will send a statement to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office and other state elected officials.
He said, "I'm trying to get as many residents to show up because the more that we show up, the more powerful we are."
KARE 11 reached out to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office for comment on this story and is waiting to hear back.
Meanwhile, Minnetonka police are addressing car thefts in the city.
So far in 2023, 49 vehicles have been stolen. In all of 2022, there were 76.
Police said most of the thefts this year have been unlocked vehicles with their key fobs inside. 29 of the stolen vehicles this year had keys inside the car or nearby.
The department recently obtained a multi-year grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce to hire and assign a detective solely to vehicle thefts.
You can read more about the work they are doing to combat vehicle thefts, here.
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