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Suspect steals unlocked St. Louis County squad car, leads officers on miles-long chase

The suspect also brandished a shotgun from the stolen vehicle out the window.

A deputy's squad car left unlocked while running was stolen late Monday, with the suspect leading officers on a miles-long chase in northern Minnesota.

The St. Louis County Sheriff’s patrol squad was parked outside the county courthouse in Virginia around 10:20 p.m., the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office said. A deputy had left the vehicle running while "momentarily" entering the sheriff's office, but believed the doors were locked.

Authorities say that's when a 21-year-old stole the vehicle and drove off.

The sheriff's office used GPS to find the squad, and a Virginia police officer spotted the driver in the stolen vehicle near Southern Drive. That officer tried to pull over the driver but he refused.

Law enforcement pursued the suspect, who headed north on Highway 53 to Highway 169, heading toward Tower, Minnesota.

At one point, the suspect driver brandished a weapon out the window, according to the news release, dropping it to the ground without firing any shots. Officers picked it up and confirmed it was a shotgun from the stolen squad car.

The chase ended on Highway 169 in Pike Township, about 10 miles outside of Virginia, when a county deputy used a PIT maneuver to stop the stolen vehicle.

The squad car was heavily damaged, though the sheriff's office said no injuries were reported. 

The suspect was booked into St. Louis County Jail shortly after 1 a.m. Tuesday, and could face numerous criminal charges including fleeing police in a motor vehicle, vehicle theft, criminal damage to property and DUI.

Note: The details provided in this story are based on the police’s latest version of events, and may be subject to change.

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