Minnesota Official: No Information That Tanker Truck Driver Intentionally Drove Into Protesters

After a video showed a tanker truck driving towards protesters who had blocked a highway outside of Minneapolis, many were quick to claim it was an intentional act.

In videos posted to Facebook after the incident, some protesters said they had seized the driver’s cellphone. They quoted text messages which they thought were evidence that the driver, Bogdan Vechirko, had planned to disrupt the protest.

Hinting at political motives, other posts pointed out Vechirko had contributed $100 to President Trump’s campaign and $215 to the Republican National Committee. Still, others mistakenly pointed to a Facebook account showing photos of a different man with the same name wearing Ukrainian military gear.

Yesterday though, Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said, “we don’t have any information that makes this seem like this was an intentional act. It wasn’t that he went around the barricades to get to the protest.”

The incident on I-35W on Sunday involving a semi that drove into protesters is still under investigation. DPS Commissioner John Harrington said the driver likely “saw the crowd & he panicked.” He slammed on his brakes after seeing a woman in a bicycle fall down.

Some people who know Vechirko quickly came to his defense. Lonnie McQuirten, a black owner of 36 LYN Refuel Station – a BP gas station on Lyndale Avenue in South Minneapolis said “He’s a great guy. That’s it.” McQuirten says Vechirko has just made a badly needed fuel delivery to his station – one of only a few stations still open.

From KARE 11:

“He was delivering gas to a gas station. How can he be part of it – he’s part of feeding his family,” McQuirten told KARE 11.

He said Vechirko must not have known that state officials abruptly decided to close the interstates at 5 o’clock – instead 8 o’clock as had been announced earlier.

“Obviously he didn’t know there were people on the highway and I also didn’t know people were on the highway because I was on the highway at the exact same time,” McQuirten said. “He was not racist at all. He was doing his job, that’s it!”

While Vechirko has been jailed on suspicion of assault, he has not been charged with a crime as of yet.

Update 3:05 p.m. EDT June 2: Bogdan Vechirko was released from jail Tuesday, according to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

Officials said the case against Vechirko has been deferred pending further investigation, KSTP reported.

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