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Father who sparked Amber Alert charged with attempted murder of sons

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A father whose alleged abduction of his two young sons sparked an Amber Alert earlier this week has been charged with attempted murder.

The alert was issued around 4:30 a.m. Thursday after two boys from Lakeville, aged 2 and 4, were taken by their father who was reported to have been suicidal.

WCCO reports that 27-year-old Jay Ernst was charged on Friday with two counts of first-degree attempted murder, with the criminal complaint saying they were found in a closed garage with the engine of his Ford running.

In his initial comments to police, Ernst is said to have engineered the scenario as a "cry for help" to address his addiction issues, and said he was not trying to harm himself or his children.

Lt. Bill Geri, of Lakeville police, told KARE 11 that Ernst was discovered in the garage by his mother, after he failed to return to her house after telling her "he was going out to listen to some music in a vehicle."

Before police could arrive, Ernst fled the home in Lakeville with his children, but it was located a short time after the alert was raised near the intersection of Interstate 35E and County Road 42 in Burnsville, the TV station notes.

KSTP reports that Ernst and his wife are separated but the father has full custody of the children. He is reported to have mentioned contemplating suicide to family members in the days before it happened, with his mother telling police he was at "breaking point" because of his marital and addiction issues.

Both of the children have been examined by doctors since the ordeal, and are said to be in good health, KSTP says.

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