Skip to main content

A driver has been charged, accused of crashing a stolen vehicle during a police chase in St. Paul, killing one of his passengers

Michael Anthony Bruce, 31, of Columbia Heights, is charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide, fleeing a peace officer and theft of a motor vehicle, all felonies. 

Brenda Lee Schaaf, 54, of Robbinsdale was killed in the crash, the Minnesota State Patrol said. She was in the back seat at the time of the wreck. Bruce and his other passenger, a 35-year-old woman from Minneapolis who was in the front passenger seat, suffered non-life-threatening injuries. 

Bruce was scheduled to make his first court appearance Friday.

The charges

According to the criminal complaint, Minnesota State Patrol troopers were patrolling in the area of Interstate 94 and Pascal Street in St. Paul when they observed a Kia Optima speeding down the interstate at about 2:20 a.m. on Jan. 4.

The troopers ran the vehicle's license plate and learned it had been reported stolen in Minneapolis the day before. 

The troopers saw the driver, later identified as Bruce, continuing to speed down eastbound I-94, making numerous lane changes and weaving in and out of the lane, charges said. 

Troopers tried to stop the vehicle as Bruce exited on Highway 61 southbound, but he started to "drive erratically, slowed and nearly stopped" but then rammed the back of a trooper's squad car and swerved to the right. 

A trooper activated the emergency lights and siren, at which point Bruce accelerated to 100 mph on southbound Highway 61. Troopers pursued the vehicle.

Bruce continued driving erratically, speeding and weaving in and out of the lane. He drove 3 miles and exited onto Bailey Road at a "high rate of speed," charges said.

Then, at the top of the ramp, Bruce attempted to slow and turn left but he oversteered, lost control and hit the concrete wall at about 50-60 mph, the complaint said. 

Bruce got out of the driver's seat and troopers handcuffed him. He said he ingested heroin and was wearing clothes with security tags still on them, prosecutors allege. He also complained of neck and back pain. 

The front-seat passenger had to be extricated from the vehicle. She complained of neck pain and had a small bag with suspected methamphetamine on her, the complaint states. There was also suspected heroin in a baggie and a needle in what is believed to be her jacket. 

She had multiple warrants for her arrest. 

Schaaf was in the back seat of the vehicle and after the crash complained of back, neck and arm pain, as well as difficulty breathing. She was secured with handcuffs, charges said. 

Bruce, Schaaf and the other passenger were taken to the hospital. Troopers learned on Jan. 4 that Schaaf had died of her injuries. 

The complaint does not specify the day she died, nor an official cause of death.

Police searched the vehicle and found suspected narcotics and paraphernalia, as well as needles that contained a brown tar-like substance. A small baggie of crystal-like substance was also found in the car. 

Bruce has pending charges of felony motor vehicle theft and DWI, the complaint said. There was also an active warrant for him.

Next Up

crystal police department

2 women found dead in Crystal home, police investigating

Authorities investigating the incident as a murder-suicide.

Screen Shot 2022-01-27 at 9.15.45 PM

Buckeyes crash the glass, fend off Gophers

E.J. Liddell dominated in the paint to help No. 16 Ohio State.

nicolas blouin flickr fire hose

Fire departments decry drivers running over hoses, endangering crews

It happened in two separate Northland cities this week.

All Energy Solar - Bringing Panels to Roof

All Energy Solar reaches growth milestones with higher goals yet for 2022

Minnesota solar company continues to thrive through building a strong workforce

Royal Canadian Mounted Police maintoba crossing crop

Authorities ID family found frozen to death at MN-Canada border

They're still trying to unravel how they got there and who might have helped them.

covid

Mayo Clinic specialist: 'The omicron surge is not over'

Experts expect a rapid decline over the next month followed a period of calm.

police lights

Charges: Man in stolen Jeep leads police on 110 mph chase

He crashed into a light post near the Capitol and then fled on foot, the complaint says.

kua dog go fund me

Puppy in back of stolen Audi found, reunited with owner

The 4 1/2-month-old bullmastiff had been missing more than a week.

Fuzzy Gerdes Flickr Franks Diner Kenosha

WI's best 'hole-in-the-wall' diner is Guy Fieri-approved

Come for the "garbage pile," stay for ... even more breakfast food.

FKISmwPWUAYZJW6

Minnesota's pre-pro women's soccer team unveils name, logo

The new name and look was unveiled after community owners voted on a winner.

fentanyl DEA

21 people charged in connection to drug trafficking in northern MN

Police say the organization sold more than 10 pounds of heroin and fentanyl in northern Minnesota.

Related

Schnobrich  U of M photo

Driver charged in 'catastrophic' crash that killed U of M pediatrician

The victim was on his way to work at the time of the wreck.

police lights

Driver struggles with deputy during traffic stop, flees and crashes, killing passenger

The deputy drew their weapon at one point during the incident.

State Patrol

Woman killed in crash with cargo truck west of Twin Cities

The fatal crash involved a compact SUV and a cargo truck.

State Patrol

State Patrol: Semi driver kills self after being stopped by troopers

The incident happened Wednesday morning in the Miracle Mile shopping center parking lot in Rochester.