An Otsego man will face multiple charges stemming from his act of driving into a protest scene in May, after a months-long investigation and multiple interviews with the truck driver, other motorists and protestors on the Interstate 35W bridge.
Protestors were gathering on both sides of the Interstate bridge over the Mississippi River on May 31, demonstrating after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 29 when the man drove into the crowd of more than 1,000 people with his semi, pulling a trailer used to carry petroleum.
Bogdan Vechirko, was charged Thursday, Oct. 22, with a felony count of threats of violence and a gross misdemeanor count of criminal vehicular operation.
The driver was identified as Vechirko, 35, of Otsego. He was booked around 9 p.m. Sunday, May 31 by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, charged with assault. He was later released.
Since that time, the state has conducted numerous interviews and reviewed traffic cameras along Vechirko’s route to the 35W Bridge.
The charges filed Thursday state investigators also watched a number of cell phone videos, all of which showed protesters screaming and running in a panic from the truck. The videos also showed multiple cars, trucks and other vehicles stopped in the northbound lanes and drivers heading the wrong direction on entrance ramps throughout Vechirko’s drive to the bridge.
The investigation also re-enacted Vechriko’s drive.
Investigators used a similar semi-truck to reconstruct Verchirko’s drive. This showed that Verchirko’s line of sight from his cab would have provided him ample time to see the protestors and stop his truck, the charges continue.
Reports showed Vechirko was an independent contractor for Ken Advantage Group, and the company’s logo was on the cab of the truck. Owner Ken Advantage issued a statement after the incident:
“Our hearts go out to all those who are grieving the events of this past week,” part of the statement read.
The company said it would work fully with the investigation to determine why Vechirko drove on the interstate after it was closed, and into the crowd.
No one was hurt in the incident, but protesters swarmed the truck and attacked Vechirko after he arrived on the bridge. He was rescued by bystanders and by police who were monitoring the protest, but not before sustaining injuries to his head and face. He was taken to Hennepin County Health Services and released into police custody.
He will make his first court appearance on the charges on Nov. 10.
KSTP had live video of the incident: