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Truck driver arrested after appearing to drive through protesters on Minneapolis interstate

Semi-truck appears to drive into protesters
Semi-truck appears to try to drive through protesters on Minneapolis interstate 12:36

Editor's note: The arrested truck driver was released from custody Tuesday and charges against him are pending. Read the latest update here.

Video captured by CBS Minnesota and a webcam shows a tanker truck apparently trying to drive through a large crowd of peaceful protesters on Interstate 35W in Minneapolis on Sunday night. Officials said the man was arrested and taken to a local medical center with non-life-threatening injuries.

Footage shows a tanker truck approaching the throng of people at a high speed, as protesters frantically try to avoid being hit. The truck slowly stops and is then surrounded by protesters who pull open both the driver and passenger doors. The State Police said there was no immediate word of injuries. CBS Minnesota said some 5,000 protesters were on the interstate at the time.

The crowd was part of a protest group marching against the death of George Floyd, and demonstrators had taken position to take a knee on the bridge, CBS Minnesota reports. It had been a relatively peaceful protest up until that point.

Tanker truck drives into protesters on bridge
A tanker truck drives into thousands of protesters marching on 35W north bound highway during a protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Sunday, May 31, 2020. Reuters

CBS Minnesota video footage also showed people climb atop the cab of the tanker truck after it had stopped. Police intervened into the tense situation minutes later and could be seen dispersing the crowd with a liquid.

The interstate had been closed at 5 p.m. CT and it wasn't immediately known why the truck was on the road. Officials said they will investigate.

Late Sunday, Hennepin County officials released a mugshot of the truck driver and identified him as Bogdan Vechirko:

Kenan Advantage Group, the trucking company Vechirko works for, issued a statement Sunday night saying they will be cooperating fully with authorities in the coming days:

"Our hearts go out to all those who are grieving the events of this past week. We have been informed of an incident involving one of our independent contractors in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during recent protests. Our first and foremost concern is for the safety and security of the public, our employees and our customers. We will be cooperating fully with the investigating authorities in the days ahead. It would be inappropriate to comment at this time until we have additional facts as the investigation is in its early stages. We will comment further once we have more information."

There have been six days of protests in Minneapolis since the death of Floyd, who was captured on video pleading for air as a police officer kneeled on his neck while he was handcuffed. Four Minneapolis officers have been fired and one, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Protests have spread across the state and country, with some turning violent. For the first time since World War II, the National Guard was fully activated in response to the violence and a curfew was placed on the Twin Cities. More than 5,000 National Guard troops were deployed Saturday night in what Minnesota Governor Tim Walz described as the "most complex public safety operation in the history of our state."

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