A semitrailer sped toward a crowd of people protesting the death of George Floyd on Sunday, video showed, in a harrowing series of events forcing the protesters to run for safety.
The driver was later identified by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, as Bogdan Vechirko, according to Fox 9. Police said he’s being held on suspicion of assault.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety [DPS] had previously announced he was arrested and taken to Hennepin Healthcare with non-life threatening injuries.
Remarkably, DPS officials said it appeared none of the protesters was seriously injured.
Video of the incident showed the truck barreling toward the crowd of peaceful protesters assembled on both lanes of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis.
The Minnesota State Patrol said in a tweet that “disturbing actions” by Vechirko appeared deliberate, although it’s still unclear if that was the case.
Many of the protesters could be seen scrambling to get out of the way as the truck appeared to come to a stop.
As the truck stopped, the crowd dragged him from his vehicle and beat him, while protesters smashed its windshield, according to the Guardian. People reportedly threw their bicycles in front of the truck in an effort to slow it down.
Officials in Minneapolis and St. Paul had ordered the highway closed at 5 p.m. It was unclear how the semi managed to get on the highway.
Minneapolis’s WCCO-TV later aired additional footage of the incident. As the station’s anchors watched the video, they appeared shocked and were heard saying, “Oh my gosh, the speed at which that truck approached.”
Horrifying traffic cam video of a semi truck going full speed through crowds of protesters on the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis. pic.twitter.com/6D7HeTS07g
— Jason DeRusha (@DeRushaJ) May 31, 2020
DPS Commissioner John Harrington estimated about 5,000 to 6,000 people were on the bridge at the time the truck sped through, according to the station.
Camera footage from the Minnesota Department of Transportation appeared to show the semi on I-35W as authorities were closing the highway. It didn’t appear to drive through any barricades, according to the Minnesota DPS.
From DPS Commissioner Harrington: From the footage we are seeing on @MnDOT cameras, it appears the semi was on I-35W as authorities were closing the road. It didn’t appear to drive through any barricades. Driver released from the hospital & under arrest. #MACCMN
— MnDPS_DPS (@MnDPS_DPS) June 1, 2020
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz later said Vechirko was released from the hospital and taken into police custody, the news organization reported.
One of those protesters told KARE 11 the driver could be heard honking the horn as he approached.
“We could hear his horn,” the protester said. “He was holding the horn down the entire time.”
Very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators. The truck driver was injured & taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He is under arrest. It doesn’t appear any protesters were hit by the truck. #MACCMN
— MnDPS_DPS (@MnDPS_DPS) May 31, 2020
Minneapolis, the city where George Floyd was killed in police custody on Monday, saw its sixth consecutive day of protests on Sunday. The city declared an evening curfew and Walz activated the National Guard to help enforce it.
In a statement, Kenan Advantage, the company that owns the truck, said Vechirko was an independent contractor.
“Our first and foremost concern is for the safety and security of the public, our employees and our customers,” the company said in a statement, according to Fox 9. “We will be cooperating fully with the investigating authorities in the days ahead.”