A Little Canada man is facing felony charges after authorities say he went on a Christmas Day property destruction rampage at a Vadnais Heights motorsports business, racking up nearly $500,000 in damages.
Nearly as shocking as the destruction itself is the fact that a Ramsey County judge lowered Austin Michael Erickson’s bail from $200,000 to just $500 cash, despite the fact that Erickson is a repeat offender with several pending cases, including charges on violent crimes.
New charges filed in Ramsey County District Court on Tuesday say Erickson, 30, broke into Tousley Motorsports after 6 a.m. on Christmas morning. Once inside, he gained access to an ATV which he used to crash into other merchandise and fixtures inside the building, causing extensive damage.
Ramsey County deputies responded to the business on a report of a glass break alarm and a report that a suspect could be seen on video inside the facility on the business’s security cameras crashing the ATV inside the store.
Upon arrival, the suspect drove directly toward a deputy at one of the doors. The suspect then crashed through a gate while on the ATV and fled into a wooded area. The suspect, subsequently identified as Erickson, was captured a short time later after fleeing on foot from the ATV.
The criminal complaint states that Erickson told police he contacted a high school friend to meet him at Tousley where they “did dope.” Erickson said he used a trailer hitch ball to break the glass and enter the building while the friend waited outside scouting and watching. Erickson said the friend talked him into doing the burglary and thefts. The friend, who is named in the criminal complaint, does not appear to have been arrested or charged at this point.
Erickson has been charged with felony counts of second-degree burglary, first-degree property damage, and motor vehicle theft. He made his first court appearance on Wednesday.
The president of Tousley Motorsports, David Glassman, reached out to media with a statement expressing shock following the arrest of Erickson, stating that he’d been informed that Erickson’s bail had been reduced from $200,000 to just $500 cash by Judge Paul Yang.
“Tonight we were informed by the investigator that the ‘suspect’ had his bail lowered from $200,000 to $500 cash. To say we are shocked in an understatement.
Austin Michael Erickson was out on a $500 bond for another recent theft case. Not only does he have a current case pending, he has amassed an extensive criminal record.
Had he been properly prosecuted for his past crimes, he wouldn’t have been able to commit the multiple felonies on Christmas which were all eyewitnessed by our surveillance cameras and law enforcement on site.
The fact that he is again being released back into the general public on a $500 bond by Judge Paul Yang is a joke and another example of how Governor Walz and AG Ellison’s soft on crime policies continue to inflict hardship on law abiding Minnesotans.”
Court records show that Erickson pled guilty in October to a felony charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm in a case where he was also charged with second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon stemming from a domestic altercation in Ramsey County in February. Charges say he pointed a gun at his ex-girlfriend over a property dispute.
Under the terms of a plea agreement, the assault charge would be dismissed at sentencing along with two other separate cases involving felony charges of threats of violence and motor vehicle theft.
Erickson was left free out of custody following his guilty plea to await a sentencing hearing on Jan. 19, 2024.
Erickson also has prior convictions on violation of a no contact order, improper transport of a firearm, fleeing police, tampering with a motor vehicle, disorderly conduct, and two convictions on fifth-degree drug possession.
KSTP also reported following the bail reduction that Ramsey County Undersheriff Mike Martin expressed concern over the reduced bail amount, saying, “This is someone who is not a stranger to the criminal justice system.” Martin recounted that one of their deputies had nearly been run over by Erickson in his attempt to flee, and further stated, “… this is why people don’t trust the criminal justice system, why they’ve lost faith.”
Erickson is scheduled to appear in court again on Jan. 22, 2024, on the new charges.
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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.