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Minnesota House goes into sudden recess after security alert

St. Paul police say four suspects in a stolen vehicle bailed out in a parking lot next to the State Capitol building, triggering a lockdown of the entire campus.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Four juveniles are in custody and facing charges following an incident that triggered a security alert at the Minnesota State Capitol and forced lawmakers to go into recess and shelter in place Wednesday night. 

St. Paul Police Department spokesman Steve Linders says the situation began shortly before 7:30 p.m., when an officer on patrol near the intersection of Blair and Western noticed a vehicle driving recklessly with teens hanging out the windows. The officer subsequently learned the vehicle had been reported as stolen out of St. Paul, did not begin a pursuit per department policy but altered the State Patrol helicopter. 

The helicopter tracked the stolen vehicle, which was soon joined by another car reported stolen out of Edina. Linders says the two vehicles drove to Woodbury, where the first stolen car drove over stop sticks laid down by police and became disabled. Three juveniles then jumped into the second stolen vehicle and headed back towards St. Paul. 

Linders explains that as that vehicle got close to the capitol complex it rear ended a St. Paul police squad car at approximately 40 miles per hour. The teen suspect behind the wheel then drove to a state parking lot near the capitol building where the car crashed, and four juvenile suspects bailed out and ran. 

Three of the teens reportedly tried to hide in a portable toilet but were spotted by the State Patrol helicopter, and quickly taken into custody. The fourth ran into a building where officers found him. Linders says the suspects ages range from 12 to 15. 

The incident triggered a security alert inside the House chambers where lawmakers were in session. The press secretary for House Speaker Ryan Winkler says lawmakers went into recess, members were asked to remain inside the chamber and the capitol complex was locked down until the suspects were captured. At that point the session resumed and lawmakers went back to work. 

KARE 11 political reporter John Croman says Winkler addressed his colleagues to explain what had happened and thanked Capitol Sergeant-At-Arms Bob Meyerson, who is a former state trooper and Capitol Security Director, for his actions. Meyerson is nearing retirement, and lawmakers gave him a standing ovation. 

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