Trucker Beaten After Driving Through Protesters is Identified, Faces Probable Assault Charge
Minneapolis, MN – A Minnesota trucker who was arrested after driving through a group of protesters along I-35W on Sunday in Minneapolis has been identified.
According to the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), 35-year-old Bogdan Vechirko was taken into police custody at 8:58 p.m. on Sunday evening after being released from the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
He was later booked into the county jail where he is being held on a probable assault charge while authorities continue investigating.
Arrest records show Vechirko has an Otsego, MN address.
According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (MnDPS), Vechirko is an independent contractor with North Canton, OH-based Kenan Advantage Group (KAG).
The company released a statement on Sunday evening following the incident which reads in part:
Our hearts go out to all those who are grieving the events of this past week. We have been informed of an incident involving one of our independent contractors in Minneapolis, MN during recent protests. Our first and foremost concern is for the safety and security of the public, our employees and our customers.
The incident took place at approximately 5:50 p.m. in the northbound lanes of I-35W.
Video captured by Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) traffic cameras show Vechirko operating a semi-tanker and nearly plowing into demonstrators on the bridge.
WATCH the video HERE.
Other videos captured by witnesses reveal Vechirko was blaring the rig’s air horn as he approached the crowd.
MnDPS officials estimate more than 5,000 protesters were on the bridge at the time.
Further, officials confirmed at a Sunday evening press conference that none of the protesters were injured.
Authorities explained that Vechirko was already on the interstate before authorities closed it approximately 40 minutes prior to the incident.
Further, officials clarified Vechirko did not drive through a road closure barricade.
Vechirko appears to begin stopping as one protester was on the ground unable to avoid the path of the rig.
As he slowed the rig, multiple protesters jumped onto the tractor and began smashing out the windshield and pounding on the driver’s side door.
Vechirko then comes to a complete stop and more protesters swarmed the vehicle.
Social media was flooded with videos of the chaos that ensued as protesters pulled Vechirko from the rig and began punching and kicking him.
In one video an onlooker can be heard yelling “Kill his ass!” while in another video a witness implores those beating Vechirko to “Stop! It defeats our purpose!”
Within a few minutes police arrived on the scene and deployed chemical agents to disperse the crowd.
Officers were seen protecting a shirtless Vechirko, who was bleeding from wounds to his face and body, and placing him in the back of a cruiser before transporting him to the hospital.
Authorities worked quickly to clear the bridge fearing a possible gas or chemical leak from the tanker.
MnDPS says the Minnesota State Patrol and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are jointly investigating the incident as a criminal matter.
However, the owner of a nearby convenience store took to social media to defend Vechirko.
According to its website, 36Lyn Refuel Station located at 3551 Lyndale Avenue South in Minneapolis is owned by Lonnie McQuirter.
McQuirter claims Vechirko was at his store moments before the incident.
— Lonnie (@LonnieMcQ) May 31, 2020
“These people suck,” he wrote about the protesters. “The driver just left my store doing me, a black business owner a favor. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) has reached out to McQuirter, but have not yet been able to speak with him.
A number of commenters on TNN’s social media pages have pointed out that if Vechirko had wanted to hurt or kill someone he likely would have swerved the big rig into the crowd instead of coming to an abrupt stop.
However, investigators have yet to provide an explanation for why Vechirko was driving so quickly into the crowd.
TransportationNation.com will continue to monitor new developments in the case.