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Published September 04, 2011, 09:17 PM

Crookston Police Release More Info On Fatal Accident

The Crookston Police Department has released the name of the man killed Saturday afternoon after a suspect in a property damage complaint fled officers in a stolen squad car and crashed into a pickup. A second man is in custody from the property damage complaint for making terroristic threats.

The Crookston Police Department has released the name of the man killed Saturday afternoon after a suspect in a property damage complaint fled officers in a stolen squad car and crashed into a pickup. A second man is in custody from the property damage complaint for making terroristic threats.

"Well we're taking this very, very hard. This is a tragic incident that occurred here. We feel terrible for the loss of life in this situation, and we intend on holding the person accountable for this," Crookston Police Chief Tim Motherway said.

That person is 23-year-old Ricardo Mello of Crookston. Mello and 42-year-old Carlos Romero Jr. are both behind bars. Police say the two were behind the VFW in Crookston pounding on a person's car claiming they were owed money.

"Carlos Romero Jr. had threatened to cut them and to kill them," Chief Motherway said.

The police station is just about a block from where the original property damage call took place. When officers responded, Mello ignored them and walked just down the street and into Crooks Club. And that's where the altercation took place.

After being tased and maced, Mello escaped the officers and stole their squad car. Mello drove the stolen car at a high rate of speed about five blocks before losing control at South Main and old Highway 75. He crossed the center line and struck the driver's side door of a pickup driven by 78-year-old Eddie Briggs of Thief River Falls. Briggs received fatal injuries from the crash. His wife, 57-year-old Patricia Briggs, remains in fair condition at Riverview Hospital.

"You know it's extremely unfortunate that things developed the way they were but officers were confronted with a very combative suspect," Chief Motherway said.

The two responding officers are not on paid leave. Both Mello and Romero are being charged with making terroristic threats. Mello is also being charged with six other counts in relation to stealing a squad car and the fatal crash. Those charges include 4th degree assault, theft of a motor vehicle, criminal vehicle operation, damage to property, controlled substance in the 4th degree, and obstructing legal process.

Additional charges against Mello are possible. The Minnesota State Patrol is helping with the investigation.

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