Weather Forecast


Deputy injured after high-speed chase in county

Dan May1 / 3
The chase ended in a crash on County Road 37. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)2 / 3
Jesse James Johnson3 / 3

A Hubbard County deputy was seriously injured Wednesday afternoon when a fleeing suspect turned his two pit bulls on the officer after a high- speed chase.

Dan May was one of numerous officers involved in the chase that started around 2:30 p.m. on the east side of Hubbard County.

May was attacked by the suspect driver's dogs as he tried to apprehend the man on County Road 37 when the chase ended in a crash.

An ambulance crew was canceled as May was taken to Sanford Bemidji Hospital by another officer.

Jesse James Johnson, 30, a career criminal with convictions in eight Minnesota counties since 1999, was taken into custody. He had an outstanding warrant for a Fifth Degree Drug Possession charge out of Isanti County, which the officers were trying to serve on him at his Laporte home.

According to a press release by the Hubbard County Sheriff's Department, Johnson "was located in a vehicle in the driveway. When confronted by officers, Johnson refused to comply and fled the scene in his vehicle. After an eleven-mile pursuit, Johnson lost control of his vehicle on Hubbard County Road 37 and crashed. Johnson refused to exit the vehicle and directed his two pit bull dogs, which were located in the vehicle with him, to attack the officers."

The chase is believed to have begun on County 39 and headed southward. Numerous officers, including Hubbard and Cass County deputies, the State Patrol and a DNR conservation officer, joined in. Cass County was dispatched when the chase started heading into that neighboring county, but then veered westward on County 37.

May's injuries are characterized by the department as "serious." He is the third officer injured in the line of duty recently. Fellow officer Dan Kruchowski suffered a broken wrist in a melee downtown while officers were trying to apprehend a suspect. Last week an Akeley man was convicted of an assault on a state trooper while she was trying to arrest him for DWI last fall.

Johnson appeared in court Friday noon. He was jittery and his voice was shaky as he pled not guilty to six charges in connection with the incident.

He is charged with Second Degree Assault, Fleeing, Fourth Degree Assault, Obstructing, Criminal Damage to Property and Operating a Vehicle on Snowmobile Trails.

Part of the chase went through a trail system only open to snowmobiles.

Assistant County Atorney Erika Randall asked for a significant bail amount, saying, "The state is concerned about the lengths he went to, to flee."

Judge John Melbye set bond at $350,000 unconditional and $250,000 with numerous conditions.

The court appearance was via interactive TV.

Johnson begged the judge to get him inpatient treatment for a drug addition. He said he's been on methadone for five years and fears going through withdrawal.

"I was up for three days," he said of the incident. "I hardly remember what happened here."

Melbye said he would get a drug analysis and see about treatment.

Johnson's criminal record includes numerous traffic offenses, drug charges, burglary and an aggravated robbery charge in 1999 in Cass County.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

(218) 732-3364