Two army recruiters struck in Roseville parking lot hit and run


During a press conference at Roseville City Hall Sept. 19, Roseville Police Chief Rick Mathwig told media that Enrico Taylor has had multiple run-ins with police. (Linda E. Andersen/Review)

Staff Sgt. Michael Stroud

These are the clothes Sgt. Travis Torgerson was wearing when he was dragged nearly a mile by an SUV after the vehicle hit him. Torgerson sustained serious injuries. His boot was reportedly caught in the vehicle’s undercarriage.

Enrico Taylor

One dragged 3/4 mile, seriously injured. Second victim: ‘I thought he was dead’

A 52-year-old man with an extensive criminal record has been charged with three counts of criminal vehicular operation after a hit and run in Roseville on Tuesday that bounced one Army recruiter onto the vehicle's hood and dragged another between the undercarriage and the pavement roughly 3/4 mile.

Charges against Enrico Taylor, 52, of Minneapolis, were filed Sept. 19 in Ramsey County District Court. Two of the felony counts of criminal vehicular operation relate to great bodily harm as well as fleeing the scene of an accident, according to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. Taylor’s first court appearance was Sept. 19.

“This defendant displayed a blatant disregard for the life of a both victims and he is clearly a threat to our community,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said in a statement. “We will seek to hold the defendant accountable for his actions and pursue justice for the victims and our community.”

Witnesses along route report dragging

Police were called to the Crossroads of Roseville shopping center in the 1600 block of County Road B2 at 1:40 p.m. Tuesday. Reports indicated two pedestrians had been struck by a Jeep SUV and one of them had been trapped under the vehicle and dragged away from the scene. Witnesses reported the man was dragged nearly three quarters of a mile to the intersection of County Road B2 and Prior Avenue before he was able to free himself from under the vehicle.

That victim was identified as Staff Sgt. Travis Torgerson, a 42-year-old Army recruiter from Circle Pines. According to the criminal complaint, police found Torgerson conscious and face down on the pavement on Prior Avenue, with his head cradled in his arms. His clothing was tattered and he was bleeding from multiple areas, and had a "deep avulsion wound" to his backside.

Torgerson said he believed his boot had become stuck in the Jeep's rear axle when he was hit and that he had been unable to dislodge it himself.

Torgerson was taken by ambulance to Hennepin County Medical Center and was still in the hospital as of Wednesday. According to the criminal complaint, Torgerson's wife said doctors informed her that "the flesh on his backside was ground down to the bone." Torgerson also had a fractured tibia and fibula, resulting in two rods in his right leg; a plate put in his right heel; a broken tailbone, and several broken ribs. He also suffered "numerous broken transverse processes on his spinal column." Dead skin tissue on his right calf will require a skin graft and he will require several skin grafts on his buttocks and lower back.

Staff Sgt. Michael Stroud, a 29-year-old Army recruiter from Brooklyn Center, went over the top of the SUV’s  hood when he was struck. Stroud was able to walk away from the incident, but according to the criminal complaint, he suffered physical pain and stiffness as a result of the collision. He returned to work on Wednesday.

According to the criminal complaint, Stroud said he and Torgerson were in a crosswalk when they were hit by a vehicle that had approached at about 10-12 miles per hour from the east side of the parking lot.

Both victims work at the Roseville army recruitment office at 1649 County Road B2.

'I thought he was dead'

Stroud said he, Torgerson and Staff Sgt. Adam Boktor had returned to the recruitment office from lunch just before they were hit by the vehicle. After the three returned from lunch, Boktor had hurried into the office ahead of Stroud and Torgerson because he had an appointment scheduled.

Stroud said as he and Torgerson crossed the lane directly in front of the recruitment office -- between the parking lot and the office's front door -- he saw a dark truck approaching and made eye contact with the vehicle's driver to make sure the driver saw them. He and Torgerson were then struck, and Stroud said he was thrown and landed by a landscaping rock in front of the office. Stroud said he was disoriented at first, but then heard the vehicle speed away from the scene and saw Torgerson underneath.

Stroud said he got up and ran into the office to call police; then he and Center Commander Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Knaak chased after the vehicle. They didn't catch up with the vehicle, but found Torgerson near County Road B2 and Prior Avenue. Paramedics were already on the scene.

"I was happy he was alive because when we got hit and I looked back and saw him get drug away I thought he was dead," Stroud said.

Stroud, who has served one tour in Iraq and two in Afghanistan, said though he's been in dangerous places before, he's lost more friends to tragedies in the U.S. than he has to overseas violence.

"For us to almost die just crossing the streets in the States, it really brings home where the danger really is," Stroud said. "It's not over there, it's Stateside. More of my buddies have died in America than they have in war results."

Suspect kept driving

Police located the vehicle suspected to have been involved in the hit and run abandoned in the Motel 6 parking lot at 2300 Cleveland Avenue North. They interviewed guests and employees at the motel who said the suspect, identified as Taylor, had entered the motel lobby and asked employees to call him a taxi. The employees did call the taxi, but noticed Taylor was acting nervous. Taylor fled the lobby when he saw a police squad car in the parking lot.

Police found Taylor in the nearby Wally McCarthy Cadillac dealership, and he was taken into custody without incident.

According to the criminal complaint, Taylor told police he panicked after hitting the two men because his driver's license was suspended. He said he had a contact in his eye and was blinded by the light, and didn't see Torgerson and Stroud crossing the street before hitting them. Taylor said he then drove away but stopped to pull Torgerson out from under the vehicle. He said vehicles then started to pull up behind him so he got back in the truck and drove away. He said he thought he had freed Torgerson from under his vehicle.

According to the criminal complaint, witnesses saw the suspected driver exit the vehicle at two  different points and attempt to free the victim from under the Jeep, but was not able to and got back into his vehicle and continued to drive. Torgerson was finally able to free himself on Prior Avenue and the vehicle continued to drive away.

The complaint states Taylor began to cry when investigators told him he'd dragged Torgerson all the way to County Road B2 and Prior Avenue. When investigators asked about the keys of the vehicle, Taylor told them he'd placed them in the cheeks of his buttocks and flushed them down the toilet when he was in the holding cell.

Taylor also said the vehicle had no insurance on it and that his license had been revoked for fleeing police. He admitted that he'd used cocaine two days prior to the hit-and-run and drank vodka and beer the day before.

Stroud said though he's frustrated by the situation, he's happy that the Roseville Police Department responded swiftly and apprehended the suspect.

"The Roseville Police Department was on it," Stroud said. "They did a great job."

Stroud added he's grateful for the quick actions of bystanders and witnesses, some of whom even pursued the suspect vehicle themselves and attempted to box it in.

"The Roseville community that was involved, they did a great thing trying to help save Sgt. Torgerson's life," Stroud said. "These are just everyday people working their butts off to try and save him. It was really impressive."

Did Torgerson's training kick in?

Boktor, who joined the Army as military police in 2006, said he too appreciates the police department's quick response because he knew police generally have a much better chance of catching suspects within the short period of time after a crime occurs.

Stroud, Boktor and Knaak all added that they're confident Torgerson will make a full recovery.

"He's doing well, he's in good spirits, he's angry obviously just by the results of the event," Stroud said. "He's making a recovery and it's just going to take time."

"He's a tough guy, he's very resilient," Knaak said of Torgerson, noting the end results could have been worse if it hadn't been an experienced Army veteran in the situation.

"He did whatever he needed to do to survive…there's a lot of young kids that are in this parking lot every day that probably wouldn't have fared as well," Knaak said.

Looking for more witnesses

Roseville police are asking members of the public who may have had contact with Taylor just prior to his arrest to come forward. Taylor, who police report has a lengthy history of pandhandling and scams, may have been asking people for money for car repairs in the parking lots of the nearby Best Buy or Dick's Sporting Goods stores before he was arrested. Anyone who may have had contact with Taylor is asked to call police at 651-792-7008.

According to Roseville police, Taylor has had eight run-ins with police in the past three years for fraud and theft. Most of those incidents are associated with him swindling cash from citizens for car repairs.

Lengthy criminal record

The Minnesota Courts database lists 28 case files for Enrico Darius Taylor, some with multiple convictions on various charges. His sentences range from fines to workhouse stints and state corrections terms.

Thirteen of the cases involve theft by swindle, check forgery, theft or robbery; seven of those were felony level. Taylor appeared to have been convicted on charges in each case.

Other charges in the total list include domestic incidents, panhandling and disorderly conduct.

Alex Holmquist can be reached at aholmquist@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813.

Staff Sgt. Michael Stroud's account of the hit and run accident in Roseville Sept. 17, 2013 which injured him and Staff Sgt. Travis Torgerson.

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