Minn. jail launches internal investigation after inmate escape
Tony Krueger, 20, escaped in a transport vehicle and led officers on a six-hour manhunt Wednesday
By April Baumgarten
Grand Forks Herald
CROOKSTON, Minn. — A Polk County jail is investigating how an inmate allegedly overpowered a corrections officer and stole a jail vehicle before leading officers on a six-hour manhunt Wednesday.
Tony Mitchell Krueger, 20, of Bagley, Minn., was back in custody Wednesday night after escaping with a Northwest Regional Correctional Center transport vehicle in Crookston. He had not been charged as of 1 p.m. Thursday in connection to the incident, but he likely will face multiple charges for the manhunt, Polk County Sheriff Barb Erdman said.
The escape has prompted the NWRCC to launch an internal investigation that will review the incident, Jail Administrator Joey Pederson said. That will include a look at policy and the actions of jail staff connected to the case.
"That's really why the information is limited as to what we can release regarding this incident," Pederson said, adding the investigation is "far from complete."
The chase started shortly before 1:20 p.m. Wednesday with Krueger being taken from the NWRCC to the RiverView Health Emergency Room in Crookston for "an apparent non-life-threatening medical condition or injury," according to a news release. The inmate was not restrained because of the reported injury, the release said.
Krueger convinced the corrections officer in the vehicle to pull over and check on the inmate "by acting like he was in extreme pain and needing assistance to adjust his positioning in the transport vehicle," the release said. Krueger then stole the transport vehicle and fled, according to the release.
The Sheriff's Department said Krueger drove near Erskine, Minn., which is about 30 miles east of Crookston. He led the Minnesota State Patrol on a high-speed pursuit from Erskine to a spot about 1½ miles south of Winger, Minn., on U.S. Highway 59, where a trooper was able to stop the vehicle, according to a news release from Wednesday.
Winger is about 40 miles southeast of Crookston.
Krueger fled on foot into cropland but was captured late Wednesday night, about six hours after the chase began, according to the Sheriff's Department. He was taken into custody peacefully, Erdman said.
No one was injured during the incident, including the corrections officer Krueger allegedly overpowered.
NWRCC is a multi-county jail in Crookston that can house up to 200 inmates. It serves Polk, Red Lake and Norman counties.
It's typical for only one corrections officer to accompany an inmate when the prisoner is being transported, Pederson said, but policy "generally states that inmates are to be restrained when transported."
There are no exception in the policy, Pederson said. When asked whether the corrections officer acted appropriately, Pederson said he could not comment on that.
This is the first time an inmate has escaped custody from jail staff since the NWRCC opened about 10 years ago, he said.