Suspect in deadly Minneapolis crash charged with homicide, federal weapons and drug counts
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A suspect in a crash that killed five young women in Minneapolis was charged Thursday with 10 state counts of criminal vehicular homicide as well as federal firearms and drug charges that carry a potential sentence of life in prison.
Derrick John Thompson, 27, of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, rented a Cadillac Escalade SUV at a Hertz counter at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport only about 24 minutes before the fatal crash Friday night, according to the complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court. He had been freed from a California prison just a few months earlier after serving time for a hit-and-run crash.
Investigators recovered a Glock .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun with an extended magazine from the wreckage of the SUV, along with 2,169 fentanyl pills, a plastic bag containing 14 grams of powder fentanyl, 13 MDMA pills, 35 grams of cocaine and a digital scale, state and federal prosecutors said. As a convicted felon, Thompson is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.
Results of drug tests in Thompson’s system were pending Thursday.
If convicted of the federal charges, he could be imprisoned for 10 years up to life in prison. The penalties on the state criminal vehicular homicide charges are lighter. State sentencing guidelines recommend four years for a person with no criminal record, but Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said prosecutors would seek consecutive sentences for each victim.
Thousands of mourners from the Somali American community attended the women’s funeral Monday at the Dar Al-Farooq mosque in Bloomington. Salma Abdikadir, Siham Adam, Sabiriin Ali, Sahra Gesaade and Sagal Hersi — aged from 17 to 20 years old — were all members of the mosque. They were returning home from having henna applied in preparation for a friend’s wedding scheduled for Saturday.
Court records did not list an attorney who could speak on Thompson’s behalf.
“I firmly believe in the potential for redemption and second chances, but Mr. Thompson has repeatedly engaged in extraordinarily dangerous criminal driving conduct related to apparent large-scale drug dealing,” Moriarty said. “He has caused immeasurable pain and suffering in multiple states and we will seek a significant sentence that appropriately reflects the devastation he has caused and ensures a lengthy period of incapacitation.”
According to the complaint, a state trooper who was monitoring traffic on northbound Interstate 35W in Minneapolis on Friday night got a radar reading that the SUV was going 95 mph in a 55 mph zone, and saw it weaving in and out of traffic. The trooper was trying to catch up when the vehicle abruptly cut from the leftmost lane to the right, then down an exit ramp. The trooper never activated his emergency lights or siren, the complaint said. The SUV ran a red light and plowed into the driver’s side of a much smaller Honda Civic, crushing it. The five women inside died at the scene.
Thompson fled on foot despite a head laceration and fractured hip, the complaint said. Police caught up with him at a nearby Taco Bell. He was released from a hospital and booked into the Hennepin County Jail on Monday.
California court records show Thompson was released from a prison there this year after serving part of an eight-year sentence for a 2018 hit-and-run while fleeing police that severely injured a woman in Montecito, California. Minnesota court records also show he was convicted of fleeing police in his own state, and lost his driver’s license in 2018, but got it back in March following his release from the California prison.
Court records show Thompson is the son of former state Rep. John Thompson, of St. Paul, who was a sharp critic of police during his one term in office. The elder Thompson became a Black Lives Matter activist following the police killing of his friend, Philando Castile, in suburban St. Paul in 2016. Minnesota House Democrats expelled him from their caucus in 2021 following an acrimonous traffic stop in St. Paul in which he claimed he was racially profiled and after old allegations of domestic abuse resurfaced. He lost his primary election last year. He has yet to publicly comment on the case.
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